MACC runway copy

Campbeltown spaceport ‘runway-ready’ following Queen’s speech

Scotland’s Discover Space UK, one of the front runners to host the country’s first spaceport, says it is ‘runway-ready’ to support the Government’s ambitions following the Queen’s speech.

Based at the community-owned airbase near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula, the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company [MACC] proposal is the only shortlisted bidder to have been twice approved for spaceflight and is the only one of the list that can meet the UK Government’s minimum runway length for the proposed facility.

In her speech, Her Majesty confirmed her government’s intention to establish a commercial spaceport worth up to £40 billion a year to the economy by 2030.

Reacting to the speech, Tom Millar, chairman of MACC and of iscover Space UK, said: ‘It’s clear there remains a keen appetite for a spaceport in the UK and we’re ready to show we share the government’s enthusiasm and passion to make this happen.

‘Today’s speech didn’t quite represent the firing of the starter’s pistol, but it does suggest that things will move forward soon and we’re looking forward to putting forward our case as to why Campbeltown is the best possible choice for a spaceport.

‘We are ideally placed to best advance the country’s space ambitions and Scotland’s current place as a leading international player in satellite and space technology.

‘Twice approved for spaceflight and runway-ready, Machrihanish is ready to help the Government meet its ambitions.’

The base’s space credentials go back as far as 1981, when NASA approved the site as an emergency landing spot for the Space Shuttle. The 3,049m long runway, which launches straight over the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the few able to welcome a landing shuttle and get it back in the air via a Boeing 747 Shuttle Aircraft Carrier.

Then, in 2009, Virgin Galactic had said Machrihanish was one of its preferred sites for a UK spaceport.

Mr Millar says: ‘Our strengths from a technical and strategic standpoint are significant and we are hoping that the UK Government takes this into account when making its decision. We are the only bidder who can make any necessary changes in a short space of time – and with minimal air traffic, there’s little concern about interfering with busy timetables.

‘We have terrific support from the community and our local authority who are both keen to work with us to bring the country’s first spaceport to Kintyre. With significant room for development on the site, terrific opportunity for economic regeneration and first-class safety facilities, we are exceptionally well-placed to move forward with the development required at short notice.’

Mr Millar notes: ‘One of our other huge assets is that we are set amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Space tourism will be a significant part of any successful spaceport. With some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, miles of sandy beaches, two world-class links golf courses and luxury hotels – there’s few places that can compete.

‘Top that off with 12 globally-renowned whisky distilleries on our doorstep, including three in Campbeltown itself, and we have a very compelling argument to offer the best option for business and leisure space activity.’

Nick Ferguson’s recent one-man report from the supposed committee he chairs,  set up by Argyll and Bute Council, to focus attention on economic development for Argyll was disappointing in failing utterly to realise the signal importance of the Campbeltown spaceport bid.

It was mentioned in passing but the reality is that if this case can be won – and the Campbeltown case is a very powerful one indeed, this single development is a potential game changer for the whole of Argyll and the Isles as well as, of course, f0r Kintyre.

There will have to be shuttle flights between Glasgow and Campbeltown. Transport flights as well as passenger flights will be needed.

Support and supply chain businesses will establish themselves at the spaceport and in the vicinity.

The impact on infrastucture and the economy will be immense.

All of this also feeds tourism – in publicity for the innovation of the UK”s first spaceport, in the media images of the locality – which is stunning – and in the succession of news about the ongoing activities at the space base.

And after the technological and business launches,  when the first commercial passenger carrying flight launches from Machrihanish….

Tourism is the only business that is immune to the economic and political uncertainties surrounding the First Minister’s political opportunism in continuing her irresponsible talking up of the possibility of a second indyref she has no intention of calling. Visitors just want to be in a specific place for their particular form of pleasure seeking and for a shortish period of time. Provided a country is physically safe, its politics and its constitutional position are irrelevant to such worthwhile birds of passage.

But beyond that, with Campbeltown the UK’s first spaceport, Argyll itself will become a focus of new attention of all kinds, opening up a spectrum of opportunities which, if there is sure constitutional stability, will attract inward investment and the inward migration Argyll so badly needs – if higher tax and the Named Person folly do not dissuade the otherwise ready and willing to come here.

Politicians at all levels, enterprise agencies and businesses across Argyll need to understand that this is the one chance Argyll has to jump to a positive step change to a very different future.

The UK Government needs to be much better informed on the Campbeltown bid’s capability – and to be aware that its major competition is political. The Scottish Government owns Prestwick, another finalist. This is a far less suitable location in its dense conurbation and its launch direction – but one which may have a powerful supporting lobby.

All of Argyll and everything to do with it needs to muster behind this Campbeltown bid for the UK’s first spaceport. The rewards will be widely transformational – and who has any semblance of an alternative game changer for Argyll?

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Cobblers,Newquay will get it.
    Scotland will get Cobblers from westmeanser

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19

    Nae Fear Here May 18, 2016 6:54 pm Reply
  • See if you would place the main runway and the secondary runway at Campelltown side by side, the main runway at Prestwick would still be a lot wider.
    Prestwick is the only runway in Scotland that can land any fully laden freighter in wet conditions, that’s why the government saved it for an Independent Scotland.
    Only anti Scots, like Foreign Argyll, want to see it destroyed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

    Murdoch MacKenzie May 18, 2016 8:42 pm Reply
    • Murdoch, the SG bought Prestwick so Mr Trump could use it.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

      Richard May 18, 2016 8:46 pm Reply
      • Libellous Cobblers!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

        Nae Fear Here May 18, 2016 9:45 pm Reply
        • You’ve been taking elocution lessons from the alcoholic priest in ‘Father Ted’, haven’t you?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

          Robert Wakeham May 19, 2016 12:57 am Reply
    • “See if you would place the main runway and the secondary runway at Campelltown side by side, the main runway at Prestwick would still be a lot wider.”

      It’s a taxiway at Machrihanish, not a ‘secondary runway’.

      According to the AIP the runway at Machrinhanish is 46m wide

      At Prestwick one runway is 46m wide and the other 45m wide, they are at right angles.

      Is the aerial view up to date, they did have half the runway fenced off at Machrihanish and the AIP still shows the shorter length.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

      Lundavra May 18, 2016 9:31 pm Reply
      • When it was an operational Nato airport the “taxiway” was a runway in case of the main runway being blocked . Zoom in on Google Earth and you can see the runway markings. These big X’s that you see are “runway closed” signs, so it’s still a runway.
        Prestwick’s main runway is 90 metres wide to the shoulders over it’s landing lengths. One of Manchester’s runways is the same and I think the two at Heathrow. If you saw the video of the A380 visiting Glasgow you would have noticed how much debris got blown around. This does not happen at Prestwick even with six engine aircraft.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

        Murdoch MacKenzie May 18, 2016 10:13 pm Reply
      • Fencing off half the runway was probably an anti-Trump measure. Can’t be too careful.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

        Robert Wakeham May 19, 2016 1:02 am Reply
    • It’s not inadequately wide, it’s the same width as both runways at Prestwick. It was a dispersal base for RAF V-bombers, a vital link in the REFORGER plan, and a regular host to an assortment of visiting NATO maritime patrol aircraft, why would it be made too narrow? Are the people of Prestwick going to be happy being exposed to noxious rocket fumes on a regular basis or to regular flights of experimental spacecraft?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

      db May 18, 2016 10:19 pm Reply
      • It’s not inadequately wide for most aircraft. Did you notice when the A380 was being developed there was talk that it could not use airports with the normal 45mtr runway and the 7.5mtr shoulders as the wider spaced engines would blow earth and any loose debris onto the runway. This was relaxed after they entered service and I think what happens is that they are encouraged to only use the inner engines for reverse thrust on landing, it may be the case that they only use the inner engines for thrust reversing anyway, and the runway is then subjected to a visual check run after any landing or take off. Airports with double width shoulders, i.e. 75mtrs of tarmac o/a do not need these restrictions. Prestwick has 90mtrs of tarmac. You can measure it with the Google Earth Ruler Tool.
        Machrihanish has 7.5 mtr shoulders but they are either not tarmaced or else they have grass growing over them. These shoulders may help if an aircraft does a runway excursion but the main function of the 7.5mts is to allow emergency vehicles to get round an aircraft that may be on fire or whatever. Wider tarmacked shoulders are to prevent damage to wide spaced engines on the larger aircraft like the A380 and the bigger cargo lifters, and to allow continuous operation without a runway inspection after each movement.
        I believe that the aircraft that takes the space plane up to altitude is a twin hulled aircraft and it carries the space plane between the hulls. I’m hot sure of the width or if it will require the extra shoulders on the runway, maybe it’s not that big.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        Murdoch MacKenzie May 18, 2016 11:25 pm Reply
        • Isn’t that twin-hulled aircraft Richard Branson’s pretend ‘space’ plane carrier, or is there a more serious project on the go that uses the same type of transporter?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

          Robert Wakeham May 19, 2016 1:10 am Reply
        • The Virgin composite craft is small enough to land at Broadford, never mind Campbeltown. The Xcor Lynx does not use a carrier/launcher and is tiny. SOAR piggybacks on an Airbus A300. Further into the future Skylon has a proposed wingspan of 26 metres. Why the A380 is a reasonable template to use is unclear.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

          db May 19, 2016 11:13 am Reply
  • Great article, Campbeltown/Machrihanish is an ideal location for this. Why on earth would you put it at Prestwick, among all the existing air traffic? Surely, it’s better to have it separate to maintain focus on its main purpose?

    Otherwise, it may as well be at Gatwick or Manchester.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

    Andrew Argyle May 18, 2016 9:54 pm Reply
  • If Donald makes it to POTUS he might use the airport for more reasons than he imagined.
    I would love either Campbeltown or Prestwick to win the Space Centre, I do not have a dog in the fight.
    I dislike the politicising of the issue when it is all in certain peoples imagining.
    The Scottish Government saved Prestwick for one reason. It is the only airport in Scotland that can land any fully loaded freighter in wet conditions. Destroying such an asset would be a criminal act unless an alternative airport was built.
    Such an airport in Central Scotland would provide this capability and also amalgamate GLA with EDI.
    Only Independence will ever allow this clear thinking and strategic national progress to take place and Prestwick needs to remain operational until such times.
    Most of Prestwick’s losses stem from maintaining an inefficient terminal for a foreign airlines benefit. The terminal should be razed to the ground to let the airport concentrate on engineering, training and heavy freight transport. A smaller terminal with lower manning could be provided for the bucket and spade brigade if companies wanted to operate from the airport but they should only be allowed to do so if they paid their way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

    Murdoch MacKenzie May 18, 2016 9:58 pm Reply
    • SG was right to save Prestwick- and the First Minister’s suggestion was very intelligent – that Prestwick could usefully become the go-to airport for aircraft with hostage situations in British airspace – to save the frantically busy hub airports from having to cease all aircraft movement pending the resolution of the incident.
      We don’t know if the requisite authorities took this proposition any further – but it would be a very practical routine.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

      newsroom May 18, 2016 10:07 pm Reply
      • Certainly a better idea than directing suspect aircraft to park on the Edinburgh airport perimeter just where they cause paralysis to train services on the neighbouring East Coast mainline.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        Robert Wakeham May 19, 2016 1:14 am Reply
      • Stanstead is the main diversion for ‘incidents’, much more space than Prestwick so the aircraft can be parked away from the prying eyes of the media. Also nearer to plenty of experienced assets to deal with the incident. I think it has been used successfully several times.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

        Lundavra May 19, 2016 7:08 am Reply
    • Murdoch it’s not independance we need but people like Tom Johnston people with vision. This bunch of no hoppers in the Scottish government will lead us on a downward spiral

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

      Plugit May 19, 2016 7:33 am Reply
      • Aye! Tam was a good lad, even if he spent his summer holidays at Reid’s Palace with Winston and the rest of the Tory big boys.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Murdoch MacKenzie May 20, 2016 12:09 pm Reply
  • Tory boys will choose Newquay. Tory boys know cobblers about everything.
    Tory boys have English penal crisis,English NHS crisis,Crisis in general.Tory boys talk cobblers.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 22

    Nae Fear Here May 18, 2016 10:14 pm Reply
    • Oh dear, dear, dear NFH, you seem unable to recognise the crisis in Scotland caused by the SNP government: health – especially mental health; police; ambulance service; education…

      Focussing negativity on the UK government is simply ignoring facts but, let’s face it, it’s the UK taxpayer who will have to pay for most of this and so I happen to agree with you, Newquay will get it. It’s the best option for the UK.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

      Lowry May 19, 2016 11:10 am Reply
      • Lowry, where in England do you come from again?

        Fair enough you support England’s bid we will support the 2 Bids for Scotland but Prestwick edges it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        No Cheese Here May 19, 2016 11:51 pm Reply
  • Instead of getting into a froth of excitement re a possible Space Port in Scotland, we need to address Scotland’s employment crisis as seen from these figures :-

    Job creation figures, or in Scotland’s case the lack of job creation that are more striking. In the first quarter of this year, compared with the last quarter of 2015, the Labour Market Survey suggests there were about 97,000 new jobs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    In the same period, Scotland lost 53,000 jobs.
    Since the first quarter of last year, the rest of the UK has seen employment growth of 454,000. If Scotland were performing like the rest of the UK, it should have nearly 10% of those. Instead, it lost 45,000 jobs over the year.

    This failure, should it continue, will create a crisis in Scottish Govt finances, and Scottish Govt’s ability to meet its electoral pledges.

    Oh and re the Space port ..for once I agree with NFH will go to
    Newquay. Not for the reasons he gives,but simply because Newquay ticks more of the projects boxes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    Scotnat May 19, 2016 3:18 pm Reply
    • Tory boys give Scotland cobblers but steal its wealth. Doing it for 300+ years. Get Tory boys out now.
      Newquay for Spaceport so Tory boys can bagger off with loot from people who can ill afford to lose.
      Tory boys have no morals and are useless at business.
      Labour loves Tory. Tory boys Will take Phoney Blair on Spaceship from Newquay.Tory boys cobblers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

      Nae Fear Here May 19, 2016 4:11 pm Reply
  • “NFH”… written proof that the SG is also failing to provide sustainable mental healthcare…

    in regards to any form of “spaceport” …. I hope ( if ever it does takes place) the TAX payer does not foot any part of the bill… there are far higher priority social/service issues that need addressing first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Karl Hughes May 19, 2016 5:04 pm Reply
  • All the supply chain opps from all the off shore arrays and tidal energy schemes were meant to be game changers. Space is long term venture, just like argyll’s economic development dept/agencies. Even if they do win a bid, it won’t be maximised……others will enter market and Argyll/Scot/uk will be left behind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    Oli May 19, 2016 6:32 pm Reply
    • And the infuriating thing is that it really doesn’t have to be like that if the will and the calibre of political strategic intelligence and management were up to scratch.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      newsroom May 19, 2016 7:55 pm Reply
      • You make a reasonable point there. It is not in dispute that Argyll and Bute is not blessed with the most forward thinking Council in Christendom. Until a 10 year strategic plan is engaged to fulfill the full potential of the Region,the situation will get worse. The lack of Population should be a warning signal to those in power however I have a hunch that they will use pending increased Navy personnel at Fastlane,to avoid any plan,as the population will increase from 2017 from the aforementioned Navy. Unfortunately,the Navy,in the most part,stay behind wires,not fully integrating or providing A&B with income,Taxis excluded.
        The council have a habit of hiring failed Business people as Consultants when necessity calls,usually when it dawns on them that the population has dropped again and so has the local tax take.
        Just to blunt,Argyll and Bute is now being subsidised by the rest of Scotland,through top ups from SG. You would expect them to be embarrassed about this situation however they appear too stupid to realise.
        Local Government needs reforming now. Less elected officials topping up their pensions and more forward thinking quality.Pay them more and hold them to annual productive results.
        As for the Spaceport,unfortunately due to pathetic infrastructure to get to Machrahanish,it will go to Newquay,as Cornwall good folks are beginning to get restless.
        A&B will become a hinterland if change does not come soon.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        A.Salmon May 19, 2016 9:41 pm Reply
        • 2017 is on the horizon, the people of Cowal have the opportunity take action and get rid of Walsh if he changes his mind about retiring and the rest of Argyll and Bute has the opportunity to get rid of the worst of his noddy ‘yes’ men.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          db May 19, 2016 10:39 pm Reply
  • More for Argyll Cobblers. Too many Tory boys to attract decent inward investment to Argyll.Huntin n fishin cobblers with the rest catching sprat!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

    Nae Fear Here May 19, 2016 8:14 pm Reply

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