Scotland’s space sector is ‘punching above its weight’, says report

The Scottish space sector is “punching above its weight”, with 18 per cent of the sector’s UK jobs based north of the Border, according to research from the UK Space Agency.

An artist's impression of an Orbex launcher lifting off from Sutherland Spaceport. Image: Orbex/Anders Bøggild

There are now 132 space companies with a Scottish presence, compared with 104 in 2016, and 83 of these are headquartered in Scotland.

The Scottish sector supports 7,542 jobs, a rise of 600 from two years earlier, and an annual income of £140 million, an increase of £9m from 2016. The agency last year announced more than £30m of funding to support a spaceport in Sutherland to build on the country’s reputation for manufacturing satellites.

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Chief executive Graham Turnock said: “Companies such as AAC Clyde Space and Spire have helped Glasgow in particular to become a hub of space activity and expertise.

“The proposed spaceport could create 400 jobs across Scotland and contribute to further growth of the UK’s world-leading space sector.”

Chris Larmour, chief executive of Moray-headquartered Orbex, said: “Scotland’s space industry is a modern success story, through a combination of private enterprise and government support. In our view, this will only continue as more talent and industry is attracted to the region.”

Scotland could also benefit from a £2m UK government fund to help horizontal launch sites such as Glasgow Prestwick grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.