South Ayrshire Council has started the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development.
The Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) marks the first step in the planning process for Prestwick Spaceport and signals intent to apply for planning permission in early 2022.
The submission of the POAN follows the Council’s submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report last year which confirms that Prestwick’s space ambitions will not result in any significant adverse effects to the environment.
Launches from Prestwick will take place using horizontal or air launch, in which an aircraft will carry a rocket containing small satellites a long distance to high altitude above the ocean. Once safely beyond inhabited areas and above the densest layer of the atmosphere, the rocket leaves the aircraft, ignites its engines and carries its payload to orbit. Operations will consist mainly of processing rockets and their payloads, loading them on to a launch aircraft, and then conventional aircraft take-offs from the existing airport runways.
“Another milestone” for Prestwick Spaceport
Councillor Peter Henderson, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “Prestwick Spaceport has achieved another milestone by filing a POAN for its development. The POAN starts the process for Prestwick Spaceport submitting its formal planning application later this year.”
“This follows on from Prestwick Spaceport securing a launch provider, Astraius, in September last year,” added Councillor Peter Henderson. “By securing a launch partner and beginning the planning process, South Ayrshire is on its way to establishing Prestwick Spaceport and ensuring an exciting future for our local communities and making South Ayrshire part of the global space economy.”
Rockets will be launched from standard transport aircraft
To provide horizontal launch capability, which until now has never been accessible anywhere in Europe, Prestwick Spaceport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UK-based commercial horizontal launch company Astraius. The company will launch rockets from standard transport aircraft which require no modification and will be able to place small satellites, such as shoebox sized CubeSats, into a variety of orbits. The small satellites can be used for a host of applications, such as monitoring climate change or tracking food supply chains to ensure that products in supermarkets are sustainably sourced. The city of Glasgow already designs and manufactures more CubeSats than any city outside of the USA.
Prestwick aims to conduct its first rocket launch by the end of 2023, a goal supported by the Ayrshire Growth Deal, a multi-million-pound funding package which was signed last year. In total, £80 million of the Growth Deal is dedicated to securing Ayrshire’s future as a leading region in the UK’s aerospace and space engineering industries.
Further developments and partnerships in 2022
Zoe Kilpatrick, Commercial Director at Glasgow Prestwick Airport said: “We are delighted to see the next stage of the Prestwick Spaceport being developed. We are building an industry in Ayrshire which will create jobs and investment for years to come. 2022 will see further developments as we partner with more organisations to grow and expand our space capabilities here at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. It is a very exciting time to be involved with the project and I look forward to seeing progress made over the coming months as we approach our first launch in 2023.”
Satellite launches from Prestwick, along with the other measures in the Ayrshire Growth Deal, will create many opportunities beyond launch, such as establishing a high-tech space supply chain in the region to complement the existing aerospace cluster, creating as many as 4,000 jobs for the local economy. Horizontal launch from Prestwick will give Ayrshire the opportunity to be at the forefront of satellite launches not only in the UK but in Europe as a whole.
Public consultation event on the Spaceport planning application will be held during February and March.
The Aerospace and Space project is being funded with £32 million from the UK Government, £30 million from the Scottish Government, and £18 million from South Ayrshire Council as part of the £251 million Ayrshire Growth Deal – a ten year investment programme jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments and local authorities.