As part of a £250m package, the government will invest in a UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire

The UK and Scottish Governments have committed to investing millions of pounds to develop a UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The funding package will develop and support a wide range of new, cutting-edge aerospace and space activities at the new UK Space Centre of Excellence, including a satellite launch site and a range of other advanced technology initiatives beyond space launch.

This significant investment forms part of a £250m package that was announced via the Ayrshire Growth Deal Head of Terms agreement 18 months ago. This saw the Scotland Office pledge to invest £103m in the region over the next 15 years, alongside £103m from the Scottish Government over 10 years, augmented with further investment from the three local authority areas of East, North and South Ayrshire. This will help drive economic development across the region, create new employment opportunities and encourage further inward investment.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said: “The deal will deliver another boost to the UK’s growing space sector by funding a range of new, cutting-edge aerospace activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including the development of the spaceport site. This will not only create highly-skilled jobs across the region, but also further the UK’s reputation as Europe’s leading new space destination and bring us one step closer to small satellite launches taking place in the UK.”

£80m of the Growth Deal investment will be used specifically to help realise Ayrshire’s vision of creating a leading cluster, for both space, and wider aerospace supply chain activity. Detailed plans are already in place for a spaceport development that would provide the capability to launch small satellites from within Europe for the first time, utilising modified aircraft that would begin their journeys from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. These aircraft will carry out rocket launches at high altitude and provide access to the orbits required to observe Earth’s changing climate from above. The technique, known as ‘horizontal’ or ‘air’ launch, would make use of the existing infrastructure and coastal location at Prestwick, and the capability to launch satellites could make the UK a ‘one stop shop’ for commercial space companies.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “The signing of the Ayrshire Growth Deal marks another major milestone in our journey toward the delivery of a world-leading commercial space sector. This is an exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is at the very forefront of it. In particular, the sector will play a critical role in the global fight against climate change with satellites used to measure essential climate variables.”

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