UK Space science and technology firms QinetiQ and Telespazio VEGA UK have agreed Memorandum’s of Understanding (MoU) to work with Discover Space UK on investigating the potential for a horizontal launch spaceport at the Campbeltown Airport site on the West Coast of Scotland. Campbeltown (IATA: CAL) operated by the Highlands and Island Airports company, is currently leased from the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC), the owners of the former RAF Machrihanish site that incorporates Campbeltown Airport.
Established in 1916, Machrihanish Airbase played a role in both world wars and was a key strategic site for NATO during the Cold War, when the (3,049m) runway was built. During 1988 to 1994 the site benefitted from a £98million modernisation programme but was mothballed in 1996 and was finally earmarked for disposal by the MoD in 2006.
The site was purchased in 2012 from the Ministry of Defence and is being developed into a mixed-use business park alongside the existing operational airport.
The MACC says the agreements follow discussions and site visits arranged by Discover Space UK to promote the former RAF airbase’s suitability for potential space plane launches.
Under the terms of the MOU, partners have agreed to investigate the launch capability at the Campbeltown Spaceport, develop feasibility and business cases as well as engaging with government and other stakeholders to advance the UK space industry.
“I am delighted that both QinetiQ and Telespazio VEGA UK are going to investigate the Campbeltown site’s potential for becoming a UK Spaceport launch site and would like to thank all those involved in the process so far,” said Tom Millar, Director of Discover Space UK.
“We strongly believe that the Campbeltown site and indeed the whole Highlands and Islands region offer the very real potential for the creation of safe, affordable and commercially viable spaceports within the United Kingdom.”
Other potential spaceport locations include Stornoway, Llanbedr in Wales, Newquay in Cornwall, and Prestwick.