Author Topic: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland  (Read 1894 times)

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Offline Maxlor

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New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« on: July 16, 2018, 12:22:40 pm »
The A'Mhoine Peninsula in northern Scotland has been chosen as the site for a new spaceport (Source).

I'm curious why they chose this location. Usually spaceports are located closer to the equator to make launches more energy-efficient. This is what I'm thinking:

PRO
  • After the UK is very likely not going to be an ESA partner in the future, the UK space agency is seeking more independence from ESA resources.
  • There has been some lamentation in the news about the Brexit's bad effects on the UK space industry. I'm guessing therefore that both the timing and the location of the site are politically motivated, to help alleviate some of the fears.
  • For satellite going into polar orbits, or satellites that go into earth-monitoring orbits with non-constant latitude, the new location would be good. However I wonder whether there are really that many satellites that are launched into such orbits. Or maybe the UK is planning to have more "local" satellites in the future, i.e. satellites with a figure-eight orbit and somewhat constant longitude over Britain?
  • Compared to, say, southern Britain, is that the northern scotish coast is sparsely populated.

CONTRA
  • Spaceports are rather expensive to run. Does it really make sense to build another one? Brexit or not, the UK can probably keep using Kourou, Houston and even Kasachstan in the future.
  • The nothern latitude means that more energy is needed to get into orbit, since the earth's surface speed is lower.
  • It doesn't seem all that likely that other countries would want to launch from Scotland, unless maybe the UK subsidizes the launch costs, making it cheaper than the other spaceports. But if they do, it's going to make the whole enterprise even more expensive. If they don't, they'll have to carry the whole costs themselves...
 

Offline mac.6

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2018, 12:44:40 pm »
Horizontal launch sites such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia to be boosted by new £2 million development fund

I guess that with this level of funding they should also bring the V2 out of museum to use them as their foundation for UK space agency launcher...
 
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Online bd139

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 12:57:51 pm »
I'm not up for this. This is all reactionary crap because EU threatened to cut us off from Galileo if we left the EU. Just don't leave Europe  :palm:
 

Offline Maxlor

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2018, 01:22:52 pm »
Uh, I hadn't really paid attention to the amount of money they're planning to spend, but...
Quote
Initial funding of £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical launch site in Sutherland
This doesn't sound like they're very serious about the project at this stage. I mean building just the road capable of supporting heavy vehicles to a presumably somewhat remote site carries costs in in that ballpark. So they're likely still at an early planning phase where nothing is decided yet, but decided to do a press release for political reasons. That's my best guess anyway.
 

Offline In Vacuo Veritas

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2018, 01:33:26 pm »
Horizontal launch sites such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia to be boosted by new £2 million development fund

I guess that with this level of funding they should also bring the V2 out of museum to use them as their foundation for UK space agency launcher...

 :-DD

A whole TWO million? That barely covers the cost of the decal on the side of the rocket!
 

Offline Zero999

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2018, 01:34:06 pm »
Wow it's at 58°N, which is closer to the north pole, than to Houston and Cape Canaveral are to the equator, which seems crazy.

I wonder how they're going to deal with the bad weather. It's quite windy up there, as it's under the polar jet stream most of the time and can be battered by Atlantic storms, at any time of year.
 

Online NivagSwerdna

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2018, 01:38:26 pm »
Just don't leave Europe  :palm:
Leaving Europe is not an option since we are physically quite attached.
 

Offline BBBbbb

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 01:48:13 pm »
Election time in Scotland is near?
 

Online bd139

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2018, 02:00:33 pm »
I wonder how they're going to deal with the bad weather. It's quite windy up there, as it's under the polar jet stream most of the time and can be battered by Atlantic storms, at any time of year.

It will be dealt with as our rail services are. Cancellations and delays!
 

Offline Bud

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2018, 02:18:12 pm »
Oh no more Musk please.
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Online German_EE

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2018, 04:38:55 pm »
Never
Going
To
Happen

Britain has been talking about a working spaceport since the days of Dan Dare and Quatermass, and apart from a half-hearted effort in the wilds of Cumbria along with four launches at Womera they never got anywhere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Arrow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Streak_(missile)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Spadeadam
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

Warren Buffett
 

Online bd139

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 05:14:02 pm »
To be fair we actually launched a rocket into space in 2015 from Deep Sea Range.  This was instantly shot down as intended though. 
 

Offline Ian.M

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2018, 05:28:47 pm »
Dumb, Dumb! DUMB!!!  Its probably just the UK version of porkbarrel politics.

If the UK was serious about a launch facility, they'd put one on Ascension Island. 7.5 deg south of the Equator, with 1000 miles of open ocean downrange to the east before you hit anywhere even minimally populated on the coast of Africa.  Its already got a 2 mile long runway which was an emergency landing option for the space shuttle, and a deep water all weather harbour could be constructed in South East Bay with an adjacent launch site near Whale point.  Of course it wont be cheap, but playing seriously in the national space game never is.

If the U.K. wanted to cheap-skate it, they'd move some decommissioned oil rigs from the North Sea for infrastructure platforms to 2.5 miles East of Gibraltar, in British territorial waters, with 270 miles of clear water to the east to the coast of Algeria, and contract with Elon Musk to moor SpaceX launch barges there.
 

Offline Sparky49

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2018, 06:05:43 pm »
The lon is unlikely to be such a problem as many like to think, as the equatorial launch sites are predominantly for GEO or MEO systems. A launch site on the UK would be fine for LEO insertions, which is where having such a site would be useful for the UK's taste for small, cheap, 'reactive' systems. Take for example the recent Carbonite 2, which was developed within an 8 month span using 'off the shelf' parts.

The downside to using foreign territories is that they would require a far greater investment in infrastructure than any UK based solution, and then you'd still pay through the nose for transport through air/sea freight, rather than by road.
 
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Offline Towger

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2018, 07:00:09 pm »
Don't worry, it will end up being privatised to the Bearded Wonder (aka Richard Branson) with lots of public money to make it worth his while.  Or, in realty nothing will happen, it does not take long for consultants to gobble through 2m. 
 

Offline Zero999

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2018, 09:57:07 pm »
Dumb, Dumb! DUMB!!!  Its probably just the UK version of porkbarrel politics.

If the UK was serious about a launch facility, they'd put one on Ascension Island. 7.5 deg south of the Equator, with 1000 miles of open ocean downrange to the east before you hit anywhere even minimally populated on the coast of Africa.  Its already got a 2 mile long runway which was an emergency landing option for the space shuttle, and a deep water all weather harbour could be constructed in South East Bay with an adjacent launch site near Whale point.  Of course it wont be cheap, but playing seriously in the national space game never is.
I agree. The problem with Ascension Island though, it's it's even more remote than the north of Scotland, which isn't very accessible. There are much better places, within the British isles, even though they're all to far away from the equator, to be really good.

Quote
If the U.K. wanted to cheap-skate it, they'd move some decommissioned oil rigs from the North Sea for infrastructure platforms to 2.5 miles East of Gibraltar, in British territorial waters, with 270 miles of clear water to the east to the coast of Algeria, and contract with Elon Musk to moor SpaceX launch barges there.
I agree, this is all nonsense.
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2018, 04:52:19 am »
I'll believe this, when I see a solution to making a Scottish spacesuit.
Would need the right stuff under the kilt.
Collecting old scopes, logic analyzers, and unfinished projects. http://everist.org
 
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Offline chris_leyson

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2018, 06:22:44 am »
But the launch vehicle for Carbonite 2 was the Indian Space Research Organization PSLV-XL, same vehicle that launched india's first lunar probe and the Mars orbiter mission. I don't get it, we will have a space port but no launch vehicle ?
 

Offline mtdoc

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2018, 06:29:27 am »
Sure, it makes sense.

After all, if it’s not Scottish it’s Craaap!

 

Offline Sparky49

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2018, 02:52:23 pm »
But the launch vehicle for Carbonite 2 was the Indian Space Research Organization PSLV-XL, same vehicle that launched india's first lunar probe and the Mars orbiter mission. I don't get it, we will have a space port but no launch vehicle ?

The point I was making was that the UK doesn't really have any sort of requirement in the near to medium future for flight profiles which would benefit from an equatorial launch site. I was using Carbonite 2 to say the UK is currently more interested in reactive, short term projects, targeted towards LEO/MEO profiles - not that the UK has its own launch system at present to launch a small satellite, but the _launch site's location_ is not of particular importance.

Interestingly a grant of just over £25million from the UK Space Agency has been given to Lockheed Martin to aid the development of an "innovative" way of deploying satellites on-board LM's own rocket. This is in addition to many other grants to a variety of other companies, (Orbex, etc).

The £2million figure thrown about is a relatively small grant given to an enterprise scheme in the Highlands and Islands to aid development of a launch facility. People assume that this means £2million to build a launch site and then laugh, without realising that this is a not what this money is intended for.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 02:54:23 pm by Sparky49 »
 

Online David Hess

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2018, 10:25:27 pm »
I'm not up for this.  This is all reactionary crap because EU threatened to cut us off from Galileo if we left the EU.

How would they do that or what would they do?
 

Offline chris_leyson

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2018, 10:58:51 pm »
Quote
Interestingly a grant of just over £25million from the UK Space Agency has been given to Lockheed Martin to aid the development of an "innovative" way of deploying satellites on-board LM's own rocket. This is in addition to many other grants to a variety of other companies, (Orbex, etc).
@ Sparky49, thanks, that's answered my question, I wasn't aware of Orbex, so I've learnt something new today. Carbonite 2 is is pretty cool, only 8 months development, SSTL really know their stuff and the videos were good.  :-+
 
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Online bd139

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2018, 07:09:43 am »
I'm not up for this.  This is all reactionary crap because EU threatened to cut us off from Galileo if we left the EU.

How would they do that or what would they do?

We paid for a chunk of Galileo. Basically we’d get no control over our investment and be open to litigation if the government used it.

There are no technical measures.

Everyone is afraid of losing GPS type systems as they are fundamentally important to society now. This is why they build Galileo to start with ie it the US get dicky. It’s the same thing. We’ll end up with our own service probably. And everyone starving on the streets to pay for it.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 07:11:14 am by bd139 »
 

Offline Maxlor

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2018, 11:55:41 am »
I'm not up for this.  This is all reactionary crap because EU threatened to cut us off from Galileo if we left the EU.

How would they do that or what would they do?

We paid for a chunk of Galileo. Basically we’d get no control over our investment and be open to litigation if the government used it.

There are no technical measures.

Everyone is afraid of losing GPS type systems as they are fundamentally important to society now. This is why they build Galileo to start with ie it the US get dicky. It’s the same thing. We’ll end up with our own service probably. And everyone starving on the streets to pay for it.
What is meant by "cutting off" is cutting off from the administration, planning and extension of the system. British companies will no longer be allowed to work on Galileo, since it is deemed a sensitive project that needs to stay within the EU. So predominantly this has an economic effect for space industry companies in the UK, and the UK will therefore probably be launching more of its own projects to support those companies. The secondary effect might be one of national security; maybe the british armed forces feel uncomfortable relying on GNS systems that they have no control over. Whether that discomfort is large enough to warrant spending money (Galileo costs 7071 million euro at the moment) on building yet another GNS system remains to be seen. National pride would is certainly a factor too.

In any case, consumer and commercial usage is unrelated to this, and remains open to all world-wide.
 

Online bd139

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Re: New Spaceport Planned in Scotland
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2018, 12:12:07 pm »
It's certainly more than discomfort. US GPS, GLONASS and Galileo systems all have selective availability being enabled or re-enabled as a risk. If your military capability depends on positioning, which ours arguably does, then reduction in service puts you at a direct military disadvantage. Even our Sentinel capability is entirely dependent on US GPS at the moment. Galileo was our way off US dependency. Unfortunately we took on another one. But at least we invested money and control into that.  But due to the political climate if the EU countries decided to pull the plug on us during a military situation to kill all non military GPS and not share with us then we're up shit creek. Blind on the battlefield. Or at least slightly confused anyway.
 


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