The United Kingdom’s Institude of Directors (IoD) has commissioned a report into Britain’s Space Industry. The report called Space: Britain’s New Space Infrastructure notes how well the space business is doing in the United Kingdom. While it reports that this is mainly on the back of “downstream” activities like satellite television and space insurance, it also states that Britain has found itself a successful niche role in spacecraft manufacturing via Astrium and Surrey Satelltie Technology Limited (both firms are owned by EADS).
As it notes the growth of commercial orbital and suborbital space launch providers in the world, and reports the UK firm Reaction Engines’ progress with its Skylon spaceplane technology studies (this writer is a small shareholder in the firm) the report has called for the construction of a spaceport with an extra long runway in the UK to allow it and other reusable launch operators to use.
Comment by David Todd: This spaceport idea is probably a good one but it should be built on UK territory rather than on the UK mainland. While Scotland could be used as a launch site for polar and sun-synchronous missions (northbound flights would not overfly any built up areas) for most other orbits it is important to be as close to the equator as possible (this increases the velocity boost from the Earth’s spin – for Eastbound flights – and reduces the amout of orbital inclination needed for removal for those boosted satellite missions heading for geostationary Earth orbit – GEO). As such the UK’s territory of Ascension Island in the Atlantic would be ideal for a space port/launch site. And it could also be used for polar/sun-synchronous flights as well.