Scotland ready for lift off as 'Europe's leading space nation'

The Scottish Government aims to capture £4bn of the global space market and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

Scotland is on course to become Europe’s leading space nation, according to a rocket manufacturer.

Skyrora is one of a growing number of space companies based in Scotland.

Its head of government affairs Alan Thompson told STV News the ambition to grow the industry to become the biggest in Europe is achievable.

He said: “That is what is on the cards, that’s the opportunity that we still can target, and have on the table.

“We do think that is the prize we are going for.”

Although awareness of its economic impact is limited the industry is going from strength to strength in Scotland.

More than eight-and-a-half thousand people work in the sector, a fifth of the UK’s total.

The Scottish Government’s Space Strategy published in 2021 includes the aim to capture £4bn of the global market and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

Skyrora believes its workforce will increase to 400 when it provides a regular commercial service, with a further 1500 new jobs in the supply chain.

Glasgow is already a leader when it comes to building satellites.

Within the industry it has become known as Satellite City.

A cluster of companies is now producing more satellites than any city outside California.

Chief executive of AAC Clyde Space Luis Gomes says, “This is a place where we are actually growing the industry very quickly.

“This is a dominant location for the space industry, particularly on small satellites.

“Scotland has the potential to become a very big player in this sector and actually be one of the centres of excellence in the world for space technology.”

Scotland is already punching above its weight in the space sector.

It is becoming more and more attractive commercially, offering design and manufacturing, through to data analysis.

The missing link is launching rockets into orbit.

Five spaceports are being developed in Scotland to bridge that gap.

SaxaVord Spaceport is developing a launch site and ground station at Lamba Ness in Unst.

It is hoping to launch its first rocket in the summer of next year.

MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee are carrying out an inquiry into the economic impact of the space sector, and the challenges it is facing to achieve its potential.

Members have visited Skyrora and ACC Clyde Space to hear first hand the work being carried out there.

The SNP MP Pete Wishart, Chair of the Committee, said, “What we have found is a sector in particularly good health.

“This is a dynamic sector that I am certain is going to contribute so much to Scotland’s economy in the future.

“We have the skills when it comes to the scientists and engineers who are involved in this sector so if we get the support right, if we get resourcing and support from government going into this I am pretty certain this will grow year by year.

“What we could be looking at is Glasgow and the whole of Scotland becoming an international hub.”

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