The Scottish National Party has today led a debate in the House of Commons on the future of the UK space industry, and called for progress on the establishment of a UK spaceport.
The debate – tabled by Patrick Grady MP and Philippa Whitford MP – comes in advance of Major Tim Peake’s spacewalk tomorrow and follows the announcement in March 2015 of the shortlist of locations for the UK’s first spaceport. Four of the six sites shortlisted are in Scotland, including Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Machrihanish airport near Campbeltown, Stornoway Airport, and RAF Leuchars.
Commenting Patrick Grady MP said: "The UK government must make the most of the huge potential there is to expand our space industry so we can reap the benefits of the economic, scientific, cultural and technological opportunities expansion provides.
“Scotland offers the ideal home for the first spaceport in the UK - with backing from the Scottish Government and multiple sites meeting the UK government’s checklist of base requirements.
“The building and operation of a spaceport in Scotland would bring investment and jobs to the local area and likely attract further space industry organisations and companies in the long term.
“This is an exciting time for space exploration with huge public interest – not least as a result of Major Tim Peake’s captivating mission to the International Space Station, itself the result of global cooperation, ambition and foresight. It is vital that we make the most of this opportunity.
Welcoming the SNP debate actor William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain James T Kirk, said; "Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill."
While George Takei, Star Trek’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, tweeted: “I wish the SNP and the House of Commons well on their debate about their space program tomorrow. #WhereNoBritHasGoneBefore"
The text of the motion was: “Space Policy: That this House notes the scientific, cultural and technological opportunities arising from exploration of outer space and the significant contribution the space industry makes to the UK economy; further notes the increased public interest in space exploration resulting from Major Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station (ISS); welcomes the global co-operation that has led to the development of the ISS over the last forty years; takes note of the shortlist of airports and aerodromes that could host a UK spaceport published by the UK Government in March 2015; and calls on the Government to bring forward further advice and support for organisations considering developing such facilities so that they might be operational by the Government’s target date of 2018.”