back to article US starts sniffing around UK spaceports – though none capable of vertical launches actually exist right now

Lawmakers have signed off on a deal that will permit American companies to launch from a British spaceport, although the UK has yet to build one. UK science minister Amanda Solloway talked up the potential benefits to companies from Newquay and Scotland before declaring the "US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement" a "key moment …

  1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Tunisia

    What about the wretched hive of scum and villainy in Tunisia?

    That's got to be a lot cheaper than the UK although Trump had better first pay Jabba back first.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    launch from a British spaceport

    we can build one in Cyprus, given it's well-known piece of British soil since the times of Saddam H, who "threatened" to unleash its WMD in 45 min. Alternatively, British Virgin Islands could go well with Mr T, given his fondness for pussy-grabbing, etc.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Re: launch from a British spaceport

      Ascension would be a better choice, nearer the equator and absolutely British. It's south of the equator (~5 I think) which might be useful too. Already got an RAF base with a long runway, an ESA space tracking station, the BBC world service transmitters and some no name agency listening posts (proximity to undersea cables just a coincidence). Oh, and lots of albatrosses.

      1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: launch from a British spaceport

        Runway (10,000ft?) built by the Americans during WW2, and I think I read somewhere it was a designated emergency landing strip for the shuttle.

        1. Death_Ninja

          Re: launch from a British spaceport

          And its already got the USAF's 45th Space Wing there.... they use it in conjunction with stuff lobbed from KSC...

          1. Glen 1 Silver badge

            Re: launch from a British spaceport

            I can't see KSC and not think Kerbal Space Centre

            1. Death_Ninja

              Re: launch from a British spaceport

              When you hear yanks say it, I can only hear "KFC".... mmmmmm fried chicken

      2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        " (proximity to undersea cables just a coincidence)"...

        ... genuine lols here...

      3. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Re: launch from a British spaceport

        ESA on Ascension tracks rockets from French Guiana, and the US military tracks rockets from Florida. If you launched from Ascension you'd need to have a tracking station somewhere in Africa, so it might be better to launch from the Americas (e.g. British Virgin Islands if it has to be a UK-owned site) and track it from Ascension like everyone else does.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: launch from a British spaceport

        Wasn't it stolen from Portugal?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: launch from a British spaceport

      Remind me, what's the difference between an Overseas Territory and a Colony?

  3. Oh Matron! Silver badge

    Oil Rigs

    And if Branson does it, we've got a bone fide Bond Villan :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they'd met the British government

    They would have specified the launch sites need to be capable of launching vertically _up_.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: If they'd met the British government

      I came here to make a similar comment.

      Pointy end up, flamey end down, or you will not go to space today.

      (gravity turn for orbit insertion notwithstanding)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they'd met the British government

        "Pointy end up, flamey end down, or you will not go to space today."

        Not so. With magic, you wouldn't need to go straight up. You could take off like an aeroplane, or a helicopter (vertical for a bit, then with a large dose of horizontal accel). No more getting crushed into your seats by reaching escape velocity in the shortest time possible, no more complaints from the EPA over loud noises and nasty chemicals being spread over the countryside, cheap and accessible space travel for all.

        Don't forget the Earth was supposed to be flat, man couldn't travel faster than a horse can run without suffocating due to lack of oxygen, crossing the oceans could only be done in a boat and man could never reach the moon.

        That's Arthur C. Clark's magic, obviously.

        1. Toni the terrible

          Re: If they'd met the British government

          use your Cavorite Luke

  5. John Jennings Bronze badge

    China issues

    Its gonna have a bigger issue if it continues to divert water and start scrapes in the Himalayas with India.

    We could see satellite/Satellite action over this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Shakti

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Chinese_anti-satellite_missile_test

  6. Matthew 3

    Black Arrow doesn't count?

    I thought that the rocket which launched the Prospero satellite into space was launched from the Isle of Wight. It's tenuous, I'll admit, but surely that would count as a "flight to space from British soil"?

    1. CliveS

      Re: Black Arrow doesn't count?

      Black Arrow was tested at the High Down Test Site on the Isle of Wight, but launched from Woomera in Australia. High Down is well worth a visit though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Black Arrow doesn't count?

        We already have a perfectly good spaceport at 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan. Really don't see we need another.

  7. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Happy

    Film

    Wasn't there a mild Peter Sellers film where at the end, he as a priest, goes up in a British rocket from Ultima Thule, here a Scottish island ?

    .

    We had more confidence in British technology back then.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Film

      I recall a famous documentary following the exploits of a Mr N Wisdom. I believe it was called "A bulldog breed".

    2. agurney

      Re: Film

      There's also "Rockets Galore", based on Compton MacKenzie's follow up to "Whisky Galore".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why here?

    OK - I get the 'look at us, we are so cool we even have a spaceport' reason to build one, but isn't there a basic flaw - you generally want to launch with the spin of the earth rather than against it, so normally you launch to the east? You also generally want a nice uninhabited and sparsely occupied space (like an ocean or a desert) in the direction of your launch for a few hundred miles, so that inadvertent unscheduled disassembly events don't drop a few tons of scrap metal on anyones head. Last time I looked Europe was pretty close in an Easterly direction. So we will either have to launch south west from Cornwall or north from Scotland which essentially means polar orbits - maybe we are going to do a lot of weather observation!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why here?

      There's always the good reason.

      And then there's the real reason. Which is <need to know>. And you don't need to know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why here?

        Be quiet about the Scottish government first strike capabilities!

    2. Len Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Why here?

      There is a benefit of being close to the equator, that's why the European Spaceport in Kourou is so well-positioned at just 500 KM (or 5 degrees) north of the equator.

      That is mainly useful for geostationary orbits, though. For a polar orbit, for instance, you don't need to be close to the equator and if your goal is just to fly some rich tourists 100 KM up so they can say they've been to space any place will do. In those cases having many days of good weather is more important than distance from the equator.

      1. renke

        Re: Why here?

        > In those cases having many days of good weather is more important than distance from the equator.

        we're still talking about a UK location here?

        it's back to 'look at us, we are so cool we even have a spaceport' : )

        1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge
          Joke

          Re: Why here?

          Don't worry, British rocket scientists are working on plans to fit rockets with umbrellas.

          1. Len Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Why here?

            I am waiting for some idiot in Westminster to say Britain can build "weather beating space ports"...

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Why here?

              I'm waiting to see which totally inappropriate company gets the contract.

              A ferry contract to a pizza delivery firm with c£50 in assets

              A c£100m PPE contract to a small pesticide supplier with c£18k in assets.

  9. Teiwaz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Sniffing around?

    I'd watch that.

    They'll be lifting the leg and urinating on it next.

    * No doggy icon, Paris looks like she might be a poodle owner.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'm not sure about the wisdom of Newquay but for polar orbit launches NW Scotland has the advantage that you can drop old boosters etc.(including an entire failed rocket) a long way down range without risk of hitting anything expensive.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      That's if you're launching South...

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      ..you can drop old boosters etc.(including an entire failed rocket) a long way down range without risk of hitting anything expensive.

      Like Brussels?

      But to be on the safe side, and confuse an ancient UN territorial dispute*, I'd suggest Rockall!

      Would create jobs for North Sea types, who could give it a flat-top, then drill suitably villainish silo down into the rock of Rockall. Need not be much more of a hardship posting than previous missile monitoring sites oop North.

      *And making into an actively used part of the UK, would presumably reinforce our claim to one of the last great remaining outposts of the Empire. Which would secure the EEA, fishing & mineral rights, and it need not be considered Scottish territory. So shenanigans all round!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you believe there'll ever be a spaceport in Newquay, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

  12. Roger B

    Was there not a Red Dwarf book where the full length of the UK was a landing strip for space ships? I think the rest of the planet had become a huge dumping ground for a "new earth" or something. Might be a bit too on the nose with that prediction.

  13. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    A mouse fell in love with an elephant...

    The Mouse That Roared!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020