At the Farnborough International Airshow’s Space Day Conference this past July, UK Space Agency Director General David Parker announced a timetable which laid out the groundwork for the Agency’s first commercial spaceport.
The Agency made the decision to build a spaceport in anticipation of the growing demand for space tourism and the expanding space plane industry. The timetable estimates that by 2030, space tourism will be bringing in about $65 million a year and the space plane industry will be worth around $33.9 billion.
These potential future revenues make the spaceport’s price tag of $85.5 million seem a bit more reasonable. According to Space.com,
“The $85.5 million spaceport price tag comes from a science report published in April by the U.K. Space Agency’s parent body, the Government’s Department for Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS). Parker told Space.com that the cost estimate for the spaceport was an informed guess.”
For the past few month, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been doing extensive research into potential locations for the spaceport. So far, they have chosen eight potential sites located across the UK in England, Wales, and Scotland. The UK Space Agency will make their final decision about the site sometime in the next month or so.
The timetable also laid out some specific target dates: The spaceport could be ready and operational by 2016; the first suborbital flight by 2018; the first suborbital space plane satellite launch by 2020; rocket engine testing for orbital space plane by 2026; and the space plane or planes would (hopefully) be operational within another four years.
Check out the graphic below to learn a bit more about the “essential criteria” of the spaceport (click to enlarge).
To read more check out the full story at Space.com.