2024 UK Spaceport Ranking: Assessing UK’s Launch Capabilities

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2024 UK Spaceport Ranking: Assessing UK’s Launch Capabilities

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Orbital Today, the leading platform for space industry news and analysis, is proud to present the UK Spaceport Ranking for 2024. With seven spaceports across the United Kingdom competing for clients and recognition, it’s time to assess their progress and capabilities. This table provides a snapshot of the industry as of May 2024, and we will continue to update it as the UK space launch industry continues to develop at an accelerated pace.

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Let’s take a closer look at each of the spaceports and their rankings in the UK Spaceport Ranking.

Spaceport Cornwall takes the lead as the first site in the UK to acquire a spaceport license and successfully complete a launch. However, with its launch partner Virgin Orbit no longer in operation, the timing of its next launch remains uncertain. Despite this setback, Spaceport Cornwall has been actively building its infrastructure and attracting potential launch partners. With a new launch partner announcement expected in the coming months, Spaceport Cornwall could still maintain its position at the top of the ranking.

In second place is Spaceport SaxaVord, which has made significant progress in terms of infrastructure development. With partnerships established for both launch services and important infrastructure, SaxaVord is well on its way to becoming a “fully-fledged spaceport.” It has also secured a partnership with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, indicating that launches may be closer at SaxaVord compared to other spaceports.

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Spaceport 1 (Uist), developed by Rhea Group, has been relatively quiet in terms of progress compared to SaxaVord. Although the spaceport has received clearance from the Scottish government and hopes for its first launch in 2024 or 2025, it currently ranks lower due to the absence of any announced launch plans.

Sutherland Space Hub, Scotland’s third base in the ranking, is set to be the launch site for Orbex, a British vertical launch company. While building work is underway, there have been plans to downsize and relocate parts of the facility. Despite these challenges, Sutherland Space Hub is making steady progress and aims for a 2024 opening, with a launch expected in 2025 or beyond.

SP Snowdonia stands out among the seven spaceports, taking a unique approach to space launch. As the home of Newton Launch Systems, SP Snowdonia plans to send its rockets into space at a 45-degree take-off angle. In addition to launches and manufacturing, the spaceport will also feature an observatory and planetarium. Funding from the UK Space Agency has been secured, and completion is estimated for March 2025.

Prestwick SP aims to leverage existing aerospace infrastructure to become a horizontal launch base similar to Spaceport Cornwall. While there have been no significant updates in the past year, Prestwick SP’s launch partner Astraius is expected to launch their rocket using a Boeing C-17. The timing of the launch remains uncertain but is anticipated in the near future.

SP Machrihanish, an old Royal Naval Air Station on the Kintyre Peninsula, has already established itself as a rocket engine testing site. With its long runway and plans for orbital horizontal launches and suborbital vertical launches, it is a promising addition to the UK Spaceport Ranking. UK Launch Services, Ltd, in collaboration with Discover Space UK, is developing Machrihanish.

The UK space industry is experiencing remarkable growth, and the UK Spaceport Ranking aims to highlight this expansion, acknowledge achievements, and shed light on areas that may need attention. Orbital Today utilizes open sources such as media announcements, articles, and data from company websites to compile the ranking. As the industry continues to evolve, so will the UK Spaceport Ranking, providing an up-to-date assessment of the UK’s launch capabilities.

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