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Race to be UK space hub

This week, the potential locations of a new dedicated spaceport will be announced by the UK Government, with Scotland very likely to be in the running.

Lossiemouth in Moray has already been pinpointed by Virgin Atlantic as a possible site for launching its spaceplanes, although eight locations in all will be announced.

The government's stated aim is to grab more of the international space market with Business Secretary Vince Cable summoning up the spirit of Neil Armstrong when he said he wanted to take one giant leap towards creating the first British spaceport and making space travel a realistic option for everyone.

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Some progress has already been made. The UK space sector has grown by seven per cent in the past two years and Scotland has been a central part of that growth. Last week, Ukube-1, the first satellite designed and built in Scotland, was launched into space.

It proves Scotland already has some of the skills and industry needed to become the location for the new spaceport. And the potential prize is great: in space, there will be a new tourism industry; on earth, there will be many thousands of new jobs.

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