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South Ayrshire Council has started the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development. Launches from the Prestwick site will use a method called horizontal or air launch, a process never seen before in Europe. This is where an aircraft carries a rocket containing small satellites a long distance to high altitudes above the ocean.

Then, once safely beyond inhabited areas and above the densest layer of the atmosphere, the rocket leaves the aircraft, ignites its engines, and carries its payload to orbit.

Launch operations at Prestwick will use processing rockets and their payloads.

The Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) is the first step in the planning process for Prestwick Spaceport and signals the intent to apply for planning permission in early 2022.

Councillor Peter Henderson, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, commented: “Prestwick Spaceport has achieved another milestone by filing a POAN for its development.

“The POAN starts the process for Prestwick Spaceport submitting its formal planning application later this year.

Boris Johnson

Britain sees a major “milestone” with plans to build another spaceport (Image: Getty )

Rocket launch

The spaceport will be used to launch small satellites into orbit (Image: Getty )

“This follows on from Prestwick Spaceport securing a launch provider, Astraius, in September last year.

“By securing a launch partner and beginning the planning process, South Ayrshire is on its way to establishing Prestwick Spaceport and ensuring an exciting future for our local communities and making South Ayrshire part of the global space economy.”

Until now, horizontal launch capability has never been accessible anywhere in Europe.

Prestwick Spaceport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Astraius, the leading UK-based commercial horizontal launch company.

Astraius will launch rockets from standard transport aircraft.

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A satellite

Small satellites can be used number of different uses (Image: Getty )

They require no modification and will be able to place small satellites, such as shoebox-sized CubeSats, into a variety of orbits.

These small satellites can be used number of different uses, such as monitoring climate change or tracking food supply chains to ensure that products in supermarkets are sustainably sourced.

The city of Glasgow already designs and manufactures more CubeSats than any city outside of the USA.

A new spaceport which launches small satellites into orbit could be a huge boost for Britain’s OneWeb satellite network – which has now moved its satellite production to the UK.
OneWeb is the world’s second-biggest satellite operator and it is building an advanced satellite network to provide Internet across the globe.
It has been tipped as the UK’s rival to Galileo – a project which many small satellite companies left Britain after Brexit to stay a part of.

The UK was barred from the Galileo project following its departure from the bloc.

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Satellite network

A new spaceport launching small satellites could be a boost for Britain’s OneWeb satellite network (Image: Getty )

Galileo also carries out a similar function to what the OneWeb network could one day provide – accessible satellite data enabling positioning, navigation and timing determination.

But now that yet another spaceport is in the, perhaps firms that left the UK might return to launch small satellites from the Prestwick Spaceport.

Prestwick aims to conduct its first rocket launch by the end of 2023, a goal supported by the Ayrshire Growth Deal, a multi-million-pound funding package that was signed last year.

Up to £80 million of the Growth Deal is dedicated to securing Ayrshire’s future as a leading region in the UK’s aerospace and space engineering industries.

Zoe Kilpatrick, Commercial Director at Glasgow Prestwick Airport said: “We are delighted to see the next stage of the Prestwick Spaceport being developed.

“We are building an industry in Ayrshire which will create jobs and investment for years to come.

Zoe Kilpatrick

Zoe Kilpatrick, Commercial Director at Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Image: Prestwick Aerospace via Youtube)

“2022 will see further developments as we partner with more organisations to grow and expand our space capabilities here at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

“It is a very exciting time to be involved with the project and I look forward to seeing progress made over the coming months as we approach our first launch in 2023.”

Satellite launches from Prestwick, along with the other measures in the Ayrshire Growth Deal, has been tipped to create many opportunities beyond launch.

These include establishing a high-tech space supply chain in the region to complement the existing aerospace cluster.

It has also been tipped to create as many as 4,000 jobs for the local economy.

Prestwick Spaceport claim that “horizontal launches from Prestwick will give Ayrshire the opportunity to be at the forefront of satellite launches not only in the UK but in Europe as a whole”.

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