SCOTLAND is in the running to host the first British spaceport, with six out of eight potential locations sited north of the Border.
Representatives from the UK Space Agency will join Government ministers at this week's Farnborough air show to reveal the possible locations for a dedicated spaceport which they hope will be ready by 2018.
Sites understood to have been shortlisted include Kinloss, Stornoway Airport, Prestwick Airport, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Leuchars and Campbeltown Airport. The others are in Wales and Cornwall. While none of the eight locations have been officially named, Chief Secretary to the Treasurer Danny Alexander has talked up Scotland's potential contribution to the sector.
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He said: "Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong's Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency's first satellite. The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future."
The Government aims to capture 10 per cent of the world's space market by 2030, citing figures that the UK sector has grown by just over seven per cent in the past two years, making it worth £11 billion and employing 34,000 people.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, who will join representatives from the Department for Transport in making the announcement tomorrow, said the UK space sector is booming.
"This week we will announce the next steps for this country's space race and how we will take one giant leap towards creating the first British spaceport, making space travel one step closer for all," he said.
First Minister Alex Salmond has said the space sector offers "huge economic potential" for Scotland. Just last week, the country's first satellite was launched into space by a Russian rocket. UKube-1, a state-of-the-art nanosatellite, was built by Glasgow-based Clyde Space.