If I told you I thought Scotland should have its own space agency, you might say I was a mad rocket. After all, space is a playground for superpowers, isn't it? And thus far, the only Scotsman who has made it to space is a character in Star Trek.

Ask someone to picture a Scottish astronaut and they usually come up with Scotty, scratching his head as he attempts to fix a warp drive with a sonic screwdriver.

So when, last month, the real-life Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield stepped on stage in Edinburgh and told the Association of Space Explorers that he thought Scotland should have our own wee version of Nasa, it was greeted with a smirk.

But his argument was compelling. After all, he said, Canada has no shuttles and no launch pads, but it has a thriving space agency, manned by scientists and engineers who are tapping into the lucrative new markets for space technology. Scotland, too, has talented space scientists, he said, so why not make the next leap?

With a change of mindset, could we see space innovation as part of Scotland's proud heritage of engineering achievement?

In fact, we are one small step closer to that reality, thanks to an announcement this week by Craig Clark. Since 2005, 34-year-old Clark's company, Clyde Space, has been designing and building components for satellites. Now he is preparing to boldly go (sorry) where no Scot has gone before, by launching the first ever fully-Scottish-built satellite.

Two years from now, ScotSat-1 will be launched into lower-earth orbit, 500-600km, most likely from Russia, or a Pacific Island near New Zealand. It may be only very tiny - weighing just 5kg and measure only 30x10x10cm - but it will be more than just a token lump of circuit boards.

"It's got to be something a bit special," says Clark. "We're not just going to put some electronics in box and say: Ooh, we've just launched a satellite'. That's not going to show Scotland in the right light. We want to show what a great engineering nation we are. So it's going to be something that will push the boundaries of technology.

"At the end of the project, we will have a product we'll be able to sell to other people."

Clark has just been awarded a knowledge transfer partnership, which means he will have somebody full-time to design the instrument. "We'll be doing that in partnership with Strathclyde University, with Professor Colin MacInnes, one of leading experts in satellite design in Scotland."

He is now trying to raise £200-£300,000 to create the satellite, which will be built with the help of students from Strathclyde and Glasgow universities, as part of an outreach programme designed to inspire interest in engineering.

"In today's climate, the cream of our kids will go into medicine and law. There's not enough going into engineering. And that's where the real value comes to Scotland - from bright kids having ideas and setting up their own businesses."

Clark sees ScotSat as the start of Scotland's adventure into space. "There is a real opportunity now for Scotland to get involved in space industry," says Clark. "There's a huge market opening to make a lot of money out of space. Virgin Galactic have invested a lot in their space tourism programme. Then there's the telecoms industry, too. In the future, there are going to be more people, not less, using space to communicate."

So, bearing this in mind, should Scotland follow the example of Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium - and set up our own space research agency?

"In the last 10 to 15 years it has been moving towards the point where most nations have their own space agency, carrying out scientific research," says Clark. "It's a shame Scotland has taken so long to get in on the act.

"There are not only military reasons to have a space programme. It's a huge commercial opportunity and Scotland should take note.

"But, at the moment, our hands are tied. One of the rules of devolution is Scotland can't have a space programme.

"But if Scotland were independent, I would try to push for that."