The space sector could be worth £4 billion to Scotland’s economy by 2030, generating 20,000 jobs, under a new strategy launched today which aims to make Scotland a “global leader” for commercial space developments.
The Scottish Space Strategy – developed by a partnership between the Scottish Government, industry group Space Scotland and the Scottish Space Academic Forum - will position Scotland as a worldwide industry leader for commercial space developments by establishing a range of managed launch and orbital services and supporting the largest launch capability in Europe.
Would-be astronauts shouldn’t put on their space suits just yet, however – it isn’t likely that the Scottish space industry will be sending people into orbit in the style of US agency NASA or the Russian space programme. Instead, it will focus on technology that can supply the international space industry, as well as launching satellites to carry out information-finding missions such as environmental data to reduce emissions, but also powering the internet of things, which allows household objects to be connected and operated via phone apps.
However, if you have a few tens of thousands of pounds to spare, there is a possibility that Scotland might position itself as a space tourism centre. Last week, Star Trek actor William Shatner, took a trip up to space aged 90. So far, this is not possible from Europe, although Space Scotland chair Craig Clark admits he would be open to a company looking to set up a launchpad from Scotland – where space cadets could potentially have a “wee dram” while being propelled into orbit.
However, while the idea of space tourism sounds exciting, the fundamentals of Scotland’s space sector will be in exports, including tiny satellites so small that they can be held in your hand. Glasgow already currently makes more satellites than any other city in Europe.
The number of space businesses in Scotland has increased by more than 65 per cent since 2016 and the sector proportionately employs over twice as many people in Scotland as the rest of the UK.