Around four satellites a week will be launched into orbit from Scotland’s new spaceport within the next 12 years under ambitious plans announced by industry leaders yesterday.

New figures published yesterday revealed the UK could launch an estimated 2,000 satellites from the A'Mhoine spaceport in Sutherland between 2021 and 2030.

Business Secretary Greg Clark visited the remote site yesterday and said the site would create more than 400 jobs and be worth a potential £3.8billion to the UK economy.

The Sutherland peninsula overcame rival bids from Prestwick, Unst on Shetland, Newquay in Cornwall and a number of other coastal locations.

It is expected to create new opportunities for the space research community and could also ultimately lead to commercial passenger space flights.

The UK Space Agency has also said vertical rocket and satellite launches from A'Mhoine will pave the way for space flights.

During the visit, Mr Clark viewed plans for the spaceport site and held discussions with local people and businesses to hear their thoughts.

He said: "From our market leadership in small satellite construction to our world leading universities Scotland and the UK comes from a position of strength in the global space sector which will be turbo boosted by the first new spaceport and our Industrial Strategy.

"However, I want to make sure that this giant leap for the UK will also deliver on the ground, that’s why I’m here today to discuss benefits in local jobs, uplifting tourism and businesses, helping to bring prosperity to all."

The spaceport the site, between Tongue and Durness, was chosen as it is the best place in the UK to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will receive £2.5 million in UK Government funding to help develop the spaceport which could be operational by the early 2020s.

There was a consolation prize for Prestwick and some of the other shortlisted sites as the Government also announced a new £2m development fund which will allow bids from Prestwick, Newquay, Snowdonia and others to develop horizontal launch spaceports.

Figures released to coincide with his visit suggest that existing ‘rideshare’ small satellite launches, which are small satellites piggybacking on larger missions, are capable of meeting less than 35% of the total demand.

This reveals a significant gap in commercial small satellite launch provision for which future UK spaceports are well placed to compete.

Low cost access to space is important for the UK’s thriving space sector which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe.

Roy Kirk of HIE is project director for the Sutherland Spaceport development said: "Establishing the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is a fantastic opportunity for the Highlands and Islands, and for Scotland.

"The international space sector is set to grow very significantly in the coming years. We want to ensure our businesses are ready to benefit from the opportunities this will create.

"Establishing this launch site will create local opportunities, with around 40 high quality, skilled jobs in a fairly remote and rural part of Sutherland.

"Crucially, we believe it will also stimulate further related investment and business activity more widely across the Highlands and Islands and other parts of Scotland.

The planned spaceport is one of a number of Government-backed space projects which are intended to support British research and industry by creating highly skilled jobs and boosting local economies.

The UK Space Agency said Scotland was the best place in the UK to reach the best orbits with vertically launched rockets.

The Agency is driving the growth of the space sector as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy with major initiatives including the National Space Test Facility at Harwell, and the UK continues to be a leading member of the European Space Agency, which is independent of the EU.

Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK Country Executive for Space, said: “We are moving quickly with our teammates to establish detailed plans and infrastructure for this new launch capability. Lockheed Martin is already expanding our presence in Sutherland, and we’re searching for the first members of our team now.

"We are committed to fast and meaningful progress to deliver regular, reliable and responsible access to space for the UK, with the first launch slated for the early 2020s.”