You may have heard the announcement made this week at the Farnborough Airshow that a number of locations across the UK are in the running to be the UK’s first spaceport, following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority.

If this becomes a reality in 2018, then it will place the UK in a prominent position as a facilitator of space transport and would act as a major boost to an industry that is already worth £11bn and employs 34,000 people.

The exciting development is that the industry is moving away from a vertical and expensive traditional space rocket launch, to a runway based launch and recovery ‘Space Plane’ system.


The Ascender spaceplane

Of course whilst the space tourism options grab the headlines, it is the possibility of the lower cost, low Earth orbit launching of satellites and of course intercontinental travel that paints the picture of a truly exciting future.

As a provider of Air Traffic Management services, NATS is excited by these possibilities.

We are gearing up not only to manage the UK airspace implications of a spaceport and the integration challenges it may set us, but also trying to help the industry imagine a new future for ATM that fully integrates hypersonic space flight, were that dream to become a reality too. A key part of delivering this success will be partnerships, like that between NATS and Prestwick Airport that demonstrates our commitment to work together in pursuit of mutual benefit.


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Why is Manston Airport yet again left off the list ?
It has a 2.75km long runway, one of the widest in Europe, and was identified as an emergency runway for the US Space Shuttle to land at.
It is right by the sea, with the whole of the North Sea and beyond to launch over.





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