An artist’s conception shows Orbex’s Prime rocket lifting off. (Orbex Illustration) Lockheed Martin is in line to receive $31 million in grants from the UK Space Agency to establish Britain’s first spaceport on Scotland’s north coast, and to develop a new made-in-Britain system for deploying small satellites in orbit. The British government announced the grants today, only hours after and support the rise of horizontal-launch spaceports in other British locales. In addition to Lockheed Martin’s grants, another $7 million will be awarded to London-based to support the development of its Prime rocket for launch from the Sutherland spaceport. The is designed to be fueled by bio-propane and will deliver payloads of up to 330 pounds to low Earth orbit. Today’s grants were announced in conjunction with this week’s Farnborough International Airshow, which is taking place southwest of London. It’s not surprising that Lockheed Martin will benefit from the British grants. The U.S.-based company is a prominent member of the consortium supporting Sutherland’s bid. Lockheed Martin has been tasked not only with establishing vertical-launch operations at the Sutherland spaceport, but also with developing a rocket-powered upper stage that’s capable of deploying up to six small satellites in separate orbits. The work on the upper stage, known as an orbital maneuvering vehicle, will be done at a facility in the English city of Reading. “Lockheed Martin will apply its 50 years of experience in small satellite engineering, launch services and ground operations, as well as a network of U.K.-based and international teammates, to deliver new technologies, new capabilities and new economic opportunities,” Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s U.K. country executive for space, said in a statement. British and U.S. governmental agencies have been working on a that would establish a legal and technical framework for U.S. space launch vehicles to operate from launch sites in Britain. “Attracting U.S. operators to the U.K. will enhance our capabilities and boost the whole market,” the UK Space Agency said in today’s statement. British companies already produce nearly half of the world’s small satellites and a quarter of the world’s telecommunications satellites. The British government says the commercial space sector could contribute as much as $5 billion to the country’s economy over the next decade. In its earlier announcement, the UK Space Agency said it would award £2.5 million ($3.3 million) to a consortium known as Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help get the Sutherland spaceport into operation in the early 2020s. Another £2 million would be made available for the development of horizontal-launch spaceports in England’s , at on Scotland’s west coast, and in in Wales.
July 16, 2018
An artist’s impression shows the spaceport at Scotland’s Sutherland site. (Courtesy of Perfect Circle PV) The British government has selected a spot in Sutherland, on the A’Mhoine Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, as the site of the country’s first spaceport. In a news release timed to coincide with the opening of this week’s Farnborough International Airshow, the government said it would provide initial funding of £2.5 million ($3.3 million) to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical-launch site in Sutherland, with an aim of seeing the first liftoff in the early 2020s. Sutherland was chosen for the United Kingdom’s first vertical launch site after an assessment of several proposed spaceport sites in Scotland as well as Wales and England’s Cornwall region. The UK Space Agency determined that the spot on Scotland’s north coast was the best place to target highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets. Three other proposed horizontal-launch sites will be eligible for grants from a newly established £2 million ($2.7 million) fund to promote suborbital space flights, satellite launches and spaceplane operations, the government said. Those sites are Newquay in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, and Snowdonia in Wales. “The space sector is an important player in the U.K.’s economy and our recent Space Industry Act has unlocked the potential for hundreds of new jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country,” Britain’s secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, said in today’s news release. British officials estimates that the commercial space sector will be worth a potential $5 billion to the country’s economy over the next decade. The United Kingdom already has a thriving satellite industry, fueled in part by potential spaceport customers such as San Francisco-based Spire Global. “In Spire, Scotland already sports Europe’s most advanced and prolific satellite manufacturing capability, and with a spaceport right next door, enabling clockwork-like launches, we can finally get our space sector supply chain to be truly integrated,” Spire CEO Peter Platzer said. The government said additional grants from its £50 million ($66 million) UK Spaceflight Program fund would be announced during the Farnborough Airshow. Sutherland isn’t likely to be Europe’s only spaceport, and it may not be its first: Last week, with operations beginning as early as 2020.
July 15, 2018
(University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science) Scientists have confirmed for the first time that radical changes of one volcano in southern Japan was the direct result of an erupting volcano 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) away. The observations from the two volcanos -- Aira caldera and Kirishima -- show that the two were connected through a common subterranean magma source in the months leading up to the 2011 eruption of Kirishima.
July 13, 2018