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Prestwick Airport’s leading spaceport files planning application notice

The process for the formal planning application for the development of Prestwick Spaceport has begun, establishing an industry, forming jobs, and creating investment for the Ayrshire area.

Prestwick Airport's leading spaceport files planning application notice

Credit: Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK)

South Ayrshire Council has started the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development. The Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) is the first step in the planning process for Prestwick Spaceport and signals the 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 (2021) which confirms that Prestwick’s space ambitions will not result in any significant adverse effects to the environment.

Launches from Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK) will take place using a method known as 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. Launch operations at Prestwick will therefore 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.

Zoe Kilpatrick, Commercial Director at 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.”

Councillor Peter Henderson, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, commented: “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 (2021),” continued 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.”

To provide horizontal launch capability, which until now has never been accessible anywhere in Europe, Prestwick Spaceport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Astraius, the leading UK-based commercial horizontal launch company. Astraius will launch rockets from standard transport aircraft that require no modification and will be able to place small satellites, such as shoebox sized CubeSats, into a variety of orbits. These 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 U.S.

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 that was signed last year. £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.

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.

The public will be invited to find out more about the Spaceport planning application, ask any questions about the proposed development and give their views at public consultation events to be held in February and March 2022. Further details will be made available in advance of these public consultations.

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