CHIEFS at Glasgow Prestwick airport hope to impress the UK government with Ayrshire’s space exploration potential.
Westminster unveiled the criteria needed for the UK’s first Spaceport today, as well as a list of potential sites.
Prestwick is one of three Scottish locations shortlisted alongside Campbeltown and Stornoway, and has now launched a specialist “bid team” in partnership with South Ayrshire Council in the hope of winning the contract.
Iain Cochrane, Chief Executive of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, said: “I believe Prestwick offers the perfect conditions for space launches.
“Our extensive developed concrete airfield and 3km runway provide the facilities needed for all types of re-usable spacecraft in development.
“We have an experienced high-tech aerospace workforce and a substantial aviation and high-tech engineering industrial footprint.
“While we have safe over-water flight paths, we also have over 4m people within a 2 hour drive giving us access to the widest range of specialists and expertise.
He added: “ This combination of features is unique amongst the sites being considered and positions Prestwick as the leading candidate to become the UK’s first Spaceport.”
The UK Government hopes to have an operational Spaceport set up by 2018 to support the burgeoning UK space industry.
The facility will become a launch station for next-generation satellites and space instruments using the modern generation of horizontal take-off space launch vehicles.
It will also be an operating base for manned flights using reusable spacecraft such as those being developed by Virgin Galactic and XCOR.
It is expected that the Spaceport will become a major hub for companies involved in the space industry.
Prestwick Spaceport Director Stuart McIntyre said: “ We are determined to offer the global space industry a highly capable facility that will exploit Scotland’s perfect location for polar orbit launches and space programme research and development.”