UK Space industry: Bog in Scotland could become Britain’s first ‘traditional’ spaceport!

Published by BBC Newsround, 2 November 2022

A remote bog in Scotland could become the Britain’s first ‘traditional’ spaceport .

The peat bog (which just means a soggy area of decaying organic matter – yum) is on the A’ Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland, which is in the North-West of Scotland.

The spaceport, which will send rockets up into space, is going to be built there by Scottish rocket manufacturer Orbex, and they hope to do 12 launches a year once it’s complete, with their first potentially next year.

What’s a ‘traditional’ spaceport?

Orbex Prime at Kinloss test stand. Pic: Orbex

The site isn’t likely to be the first to launch from the UK at all though – a spaceport in Cornwall is looking to take that title in November 2022.

The reason the Sutherland site will become the first ‘traditional’ spaceport, is because they will be doing vertical launches, which means the rocket will fly upwards directly to space from the launchpad.

In Cornwall, they’re doing horizontal launches, where a jumbo jet has the rocket strapped to its side, it gets launched a certain distance, and when it’s far away enough the rocket is then released to space.

Some other UK spaceports

  • Spaceport Cornwall: based in Newquay, they’re hoping to be the first spaceport in the UK to ever launch a satellite
  • SaxaVord Spaceport: another Scottish spaceport, this time in the Shetland Islands
  • Spaceport Snowdonia: Wales has their own one too, in the rural area of Snowdonia
Orbex say they’re developing environmentally friendly rockets

Experts say these new spaceports will be a really good thing for the UK space industry – until now, we’ve had to ship satellites to other countries in order to launch them into space.

Orbex is also building what it says is the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket. The engine is 3D-printed engine, the structure is re-useable structure and the fuel is even made from vegetable waste!

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