British commercial spaceport competition
The British commercial spaceport competition was a plan by the UK government announced in early 2014 to select a site, build a commercial spaceport, and have it in operation by 2018. Although six sites were shortlisted for possible selection by 2015, the competition was ended without a selection in May 2016 and replaced by a statement from the UK government regulatory agency that they would support rules that would allow a commercial spaceport to be built at any suitable location.
The spaceport competition was part of a broader plan announced by the government in April 2014. Earlier references and statements about a UK spaceport, with explicit statements about HTHL spaceplanes, date back at least to 2012.
A site selection process got underway in 2014. The sites of interest were principally Scottish, such as Campbeltown Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Scotland), Kinloss Barracks, RAF Leuchars (Scotland), RAF Lossiemouth and Stornoway Airport, but they also included Llanbedr Airport in Wales and Newquay Cornwall Airport in England." The first phase of the evaluation process objective was to develop a shortlist.
Shortlist: early 2015
The shortlist was released in March 2015, and only two airfields were ruled out. In narrowing the field, the overriding imperative of the licensing authorities was to find a location that limits danger and inconvenience to the general public. This led to all five of the short-listed locations being situated in coastal areas. The government ruled out two airfields in its consultation process: RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks, in Scotland, due to operational defence reasons.
The shortlist locations selected were:
- Campbeltown Airport
- Glasgow Prestwick Airport
- Stornoway Airport
- Newquay Cornwall Airport
- Llanbedr Airport
- RAF Leuchars was confirmed as a potential temporary facility.
Only five sites remained in the competition as of April 2016. The RAF Leuchars site had been removed from the shortlist prior to that time.
End of competition: 2016
The competition was ended in May 2016, prior to the selection of any single spaceport location. Instead, the Department for Transport announced that the regulatory rules would be modified so that "any suitable location" might become a spaceport.
- Bergin, Chris (25 July 2014). "British government reveal vision for the UK's first spaceport". NASAspaceflight.com. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- McKie, Robin (13 July 2014). "Britain plans to build commercial spaceport". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- Shaping the future of the UK space sector, April 2014.
- UK.gov to clear way for Britain's first SPACEPORT, 11 July 2012.
- UK ministers issue spaceport shortlist, BBC.
- McArdle, Helen (20 May 2016). "UK spaceport competition axed in favour of licensing model". The Herald - Scotland. Retrieved 22 May 2016.