back to article UK spaceport, phase two: Now where do we PUT the bleeding thing?

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has narrowed its shortlist of potential locations for Europe's first spaceport, which would provide a UK base for future commercial space flights and satellite launches. In response to a three-month consultation on the plans, the UK government said that it had received "widespread …

  1. Geoff Campbell
    Boffin

    Where to put it?

    Somewhere close to the equator, would seem like a good bet...

    GJC

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Where to put it?

      North coast of Scotland would work for conventional launches to polar orbits, with only Svalbard in the way. Other inclinations favour equatorial, so Diego Garcia BIOT would be a candidate. Although I suppose there must be a reason that the UK chose Woomera and not BIOT for its last and only previous orbital launch.

      If we don't actually know what form the orbital space planes of the future will take, or has Aland Bond managed to make more progress than we know?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Where to put it?

        "Although I suppose there must be a reason that the UK chose Woomera and not BIOT for its last and only previous orbital launch."

        1: it's closer to the equator

        2: They already had launch facilities there

        3: not much downrange except roos and kiwis.

    2. Chris Miller

      Re: Where to put it?

      Correct, Geoff. The other requirement is a good deal of unoccupied area to the west of the site. Failed birds and spent stages from Canaveral or Kourou tend to come down in mid-Atlantic, failed launches from the UK?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Where to put it?

        Failed birds and spent stages from Canaveral or Kourou tend to come down in mid-Atlantic, failed launches from the UK?

        Somewhere in Eastern France maybe, around Strasbourg?

        Hmm, suddenly I can maybe see why the Govt wanted to include the more southerly locations as an option...

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Where to put it?

        ailed launches from the UK?

        Depending on the location - Central and south Eastern Europe and parts of Middle East or thereabouts. Out of all possible Eu locations Britain is one of the most useless.

        There are reason you know why Russians are building their new facility all the way on the Pacific Ocean coast.

        So if there is to be another (besides Kuru) Eu facility, Azores are probably the best location - lots of sea folllowed by Sahara desert Eastwards from there. If the facility is to be "100% British", then Ascencion island is the best choice. It has the right size of runway too and complies will all other criteria.

      3. druck Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Where to put it?

        Chris Miller wrote:

        The other requirement is a good deal of unoccupied area to the west of the site.

        To the east, so that you get a boost from the rotation of the earth. Unless you want a hazardous retrograde orbit, with things coming at you head on at up to 36,000 miles per hour. Only the Isreali's have had to do that so far due to unfriendly nations to the east, which might construe a launch over their territories as an attack.

      4. ideapete
        Pint

        Re: Where to put it?

        come down on Birmingham

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Where to put it?

          I dunno why we'd need runways. Everyone knows that British rockets will launch from a rocket sled riding on rails (possibly using maglev, but that was never explained in the show).

          And with their usual impeccable timing, they just sold the East Coast mainline back to private hands. That would have been perfect, nice long run-up and all that. Although having to stop every few miles for leaves on the line, broken trains and freight might I guess put a crimp on things somewhat...

      5. MacBlack

        Re: Where to put it?

        Surely you mean unoccupied land to the east not west? The atlantic is to the east of cape canaveral. As for a British overseas territory near the equator, Diego Garcia is pretty much taken over by the USAF and is a key ground site for the USA GPS system, however Ascension Island is closer (Atlantic) and is a similar distance south of the equator, 7°56', and it has the perfect name.

    3. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Where to put it?

      Guys we're talking about space planes so..

    4. Benchops

      Re: Where to put it?

      > Somewhere close to the equator, would seem like a good bet...

      Sri Kanda mountain on the island of Taprobane

      1. Alan J. Wylie

        Re: Where to put it?

        > Sri Kanda mountain on the island of Taprobane

        Oooh - that's the second time today I can mention butterflies.

        1. Julz

          Re: Where to put it?

          Diego Garcia, has a big long runway, close to the equator and is home to just a few USA'ers squatting and not paying any rent.

          1. Heathroi

            Re: Where to put it?

            you try and shift those Americans. they might prove a bit more troublesome than the natives.

            http://johnpilger.com/videos/stealing-a-nation

          2. paulc

            Re: Where to put it?

            Ascension Island... no squatters there at all...

            and perfectly situated...

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Ascension_Island

    5. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Somewhere close to the equator, would seem like a good bet...

      So, what, Lizard Point then?

      I dunno why we'd need runways. Everyone knows that British rockets will launch from a rocket sled riding on rails (possibly using maglev, but that was never explained in the show).

      Can't wait to be issued with my flying motor scooter.

      1. arrbee

        Re: Somewhere close to the equator, would seem like a good bet...

        "Everyone knows that British rockets will launch from a rocket sled riding on rails"

        I never really understood why they landed the main craft each time they returned to Space City when for most of their extra-terrestrial visits they used Junior and left the rest in orbit.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Somewhere close to the equator, would seem like a good bet...

          "I never really understood why they landed the main craft each time they returned to Space City when for most of their extra-terrestrial visits they used Junior and left the rest in orbit."

          There are only two seats in Junior. Professor Matthew Matic needs to get out and stretch his legs too, you know, and the Lazoon needs to be let out for a crap sometime.

    6. NoneSuch

      Re: Where to put it?

      At the RAF St Mawgan base. Down south, ocean on two sides and still has an operational RAF contingent.

    7. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Where to put it?

      >Somewhere close to the equator

      Ascension Island?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Islands

        Islands are a terrible place to put your... well anything big that requires frequent large imports. There's a reason we built the Cape Canaveral space port in Florida and not in Hawai'i. To build the space port in Hawai'i, first we'd have to ship in ALL the building materials. Then, we'd have to ship every last piece of the rocket/shuttle to the island. Sending it by ship isn't too much more expensive than the rail we currently use, but it's a lot slower. Sending it by plane is fast, but expensive.

        You really want your space port on the same piece of land as all your manufacturing facilities.

        1. twelvebore

          Re: Islands

          We (the UK) don't have any manufacturing facilities for large rockets - because we don't build large rockets. Or small rockets. Or any rockets.

          Moreover, Arianespace don't build their rockets in French Guiana. They manage to ship stuff across an ocean. Compared to the complexity of funding, designing, building and launching a meaningfully-sized launch vehicle, moving the bits around is a minor logistical challenge.

          Ascension Island is potentially very attractive. Politically it's not going to happen though, because at the end of the day this whole project isn't about serious space, it's about space tourism.

          1. Ian Emery Silver badge

            Re: we don't build large rockets. Or small rockets. Or any rockets.

            Yes we do.

            http://www.starchaser.co.uk/

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Islands

            "Moreover, Arianespace don't build their rockets in French Guiana. They manage to ship stuff across an ocean."

            It's a _lot_ easier to move stuff to a launch site via sea than rail. No pesky tunnels limiting diameter for starters. The current USA setup is all about Pork Barrels, not practicality.

            In the 1960s a lot of seriously large stuff was shipped to Canaveral by barge.

    8. andy k O'Croydon
      Boffin

      Re: Where to put it?

      I'd put it under a swimming pool, the lid of which will slowly retract whenever it needs to be launched.

      (Brains) >>

    9. ideapete
      Pint

      Re: Where to put it?

      NM USA they have a spare one no one is using

    10. Mayhem

      Re: Where to put it?

      I seem to recall Peter F Hamilton having floating runways anchored offshore in the Atlantic which had spaceflight capability. That would seem logical enough - and it means you can launch in any direction by just turning the ship around or sailing it south for equatorial launches.

      Pykrete might be a plausible base, or just build it like a scaled up oil platform out of a number of segments.

  2. Robin Bradshaw

    My extremely rough calculations using google earth suggest that if the spaceport was built in Hastings in east sussex we could drop all our spent first stages on Brussels, assuming they land about 160miles east of the launch site like the shuttle SRB's

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Since they seem to be thinking about spaceplanes, it wouldn't have a 'traditional' first stage drop. The west coast and northern tip locations might have been chosen to ensure that a failed launch landed in the Atlantic rather that mainland Europe or Scandinavia. I assume they'll aim it to avoid overflying Ireland.

  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    I'm sure we're missing something here

    Not wanting to put a dampener on this, but shouldn't we have a space vehicle before we build a spaceport? But the UK government has also managed to build aircraft carriers without aircraft, so maybe it's just being consistent.

    I'm guessing that the target is a facility for a Skylon, or similar, vehicle rather than a rocket launching facility, since it makes much more sense to launch rockets from nearer the equator.

    But why not invest in actual space vehicles first and get them launched from an appropriate existing facility? This just seems like a bit of a diversion from a country who's government hasn't even participated in any manned space program; I guess landowners prefer land to technology.

    For what it's worth, Newquay gets my vote; at least you can enjoy the beach whilst waiting for a launch.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

      Because building the spaceport here first, specifically designed to meet the needs of these new vehicles would then encourage development here and make people doing it the other way round rent our facilities.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

        Not wanting to put a dampener on this, but shouldn't we have a space vehicle before we build a spaceport?

        Come on, this is the mob whose upcoming new aircraft carriers are due to be finished and in service at least a couple of years before the aircraft that they're supposed to be carrying will become available.

        So having the port before something to launch from it is almost par for the course...

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re:Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

        And so we can have a space-port built for some completely out of date launch technology which is what will happen.

    2. AbelSoul
      Headmaster

      Re: Newquay gets my vote; at least you can enjoy the beach

      Prestwick also has a beach as, I'm sure do most of the other candidates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Newquay gets my vote; at least you can enjoy the beach

        Barra Airport in the Outher Hebrides _is_ a beach.

        Could be tricky to set up and launch all during a single low tide though.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Newquay gets my vote; at least you can enjoy the beach

        "Prestwick also has a beach as, I'm sure do most of the other candidates."

        ...and when the SNP force repeated independence votes until they wear everyone down enough to win, "our" spaceport will be on foreign soil.

    3. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

      You're not missing a thing actually..

      Delusions of former Empire dictate that Britain Must Have Toys As Well, which in and of itself sidetracks common sense from the start.

      March of the zombies and all that.

      1. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

        Yeah, but times are hard. I envisage something like a school playground, surrounded by a few sheds. Hopefully with a decent local nearby.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: I'm sure we're missing something here

          Not missing anything. Check out cargo cults. Build space port, space planes will come! Let Norman Foster design it and they won't be able to afford the landing fees though. Let Heathrow Epxress run the connection service and nobody but Branson will be able to afford to get to the space port.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Guyana?

    You can launch both North and East without endangering any populated areas, and its close to the equator.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guyana?

      Falklands?

    2. WraithCadmus

      Re: Guyana?

      Well if you want British, equatorial, and on an eastern coast then surely the answer is Belize?

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Guyana?

        I thought Guyana was a former British colony, rather like Belize?

        And from Belize you might run into problems if a northern launch went wrong. Most of the Yucutan is barely inhabited low-canopy rain forest, but there are some good-sized cities like Merida that you wouldn't want to drop shrapnel on.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Go

    Runways have other uses

    Like delivering the payloads and support equipment to the site.

    Near term you're talking about sounding rockets, allowing UK universities to do what German and other Continental universities can do and give their students hands on experience of sending a paylod to space. Sounding rockets could let students do a launch as an end-of-course project.

    The other near term option is for Virgin Galactics sub orbital space ride, as possibly XCOR's Lynx.

    REL's Skylon is the big one of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Runways have other uses

      "Near term you're talking about sounding rockets, allowing UK universities to do what German and other Continental universities can do"

      My employer (a uk university) has been launching sounding rockets since 1964. It still happens but it isn't glamorous (or for the most part, terribly useful anymore), so noone pays attention.

  6. JDX Gold badge

    North East

    After all it's apparently a desolate wasteland. And we could do with the jobs.

    1. dogged

      Re: North East

      North West. North West Wales, that is. Anyone who's been to Hollyhead knows that once there, all you want to do is leave. There's already the ferry port, I reckon the option of escaping into space would prove popular given that it's sunnier, warmer and less fucking miserable than Anglesey.

      Also, you could drop the spent casings on Birmingham which is a bonus.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: North East

        I was thinking southport for along the same lines. You have plenty of runways about and you can drop the stages on Manchester.

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: North East

      In all fairness, if I didn't think I'd regret it later I'd probably suggest RAF Scampton as a decent candidate for all sorts of good reasons - including North and South of it could do with some jobs.

    3. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      Re: North East

      Yeppers,

      Newcastle, has an airport, nothing of interest or importance between NCL and the coast (Blyth... as I said nothing of interest or importance).

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: North East

        Or maybe Durham Tees Valley airport? Due to management incompetence it seems to have 2 or 3 scheduled flights per day, but RADAR/ATC left over from when it was an RAF reserve base so it handles most of the traffic up to Newcastle and down to Leeds.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: North East

          How about Wick Airport?

          Could extend the main runway, with the bonus of flattening Ackergill in the process. And the secondary runway could just be extended right up to the coast, to give the pilots something to concentrate the mind on take off and landing.

          If bits fall off, just make sure they're guided to Pultneytown, no-one will mind that, the place is a shithole as it is.

          I'll take my million pound consultation fee in £20 notes, thanks.

          Steven R

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: North East

      If you get the launch wrong, you might not have to worry about the North East. (Long March 4 and all that....)

  7. Roger B

    Red Dwarf?

    I think one of the Red Dwarf books had a space port built in the UK, basically the runway ran from Scotland down to London, but that's probably not a popular choice.

    1. hopkinse
      Joke

      Re: Red Dwarf?

      tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR SPACEPORT!!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sunny Cornwall

    Cornwall is on the list (Gool Peran Lowen!) Happy St Pirrans day to any other Cornishmen on here today. But of course no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol so it won't be based in the Duchy. Although it would be quite funny if it were to be, something as cutting edge and modern and the juxtaposition of our Victorian era rail system we have down here. I expect by the time its built (if it ever is) we'll still be running HST's to the far SW

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Joke

      "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

      Well, not strictly true.

      You've got Plymouth Dockyards, RNAS Yeovilton, and the UK Hydrographic Office which are directly MOD or MOD trading funds, so west of Bristol is too broad.

      But Cornwall? Isn't that a different country! It certainly feels like it sometimes. I mean, for some time last year, there was not even a mainline railway running to it!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

        sort of my point! And Plymouth is often called a northern city on the south coast (apart form it doesn't attract the government money that northern cities do) a city of 260,000 no airport, no motorway, and pisses poores rail connection.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

          Plymouth had an airport. It just didn't have passengers wanting to use it.

          Unfortunately, the market will ultimately dictate whether an airport is viable, and it looks like Plymouth wasn't.

          I'm not sure whether Newquay is viable, either.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

            Its not really the lack of airport that's the issue. Its the whole transport infrastructure, or lack of it. No airport, shit road and shit rail and governments who couldn't give a feck.

          2. Martin Budden
            Joke

            Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

            I'm not sure whether Newquay is viable, either.

            For a spaceport, or just in general?

        2. The Vociferous Time Waster

          Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

          Plymouth has an airport and direct train to London via Bristol

      2. rh587 Bronze badge

        Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

        "Well, not strictly true.

        You've got Plymouth Dockyards, RNAS Yeovilton, and the UK Hydrographic Office which are directly MOD or MOD trading funds, so west of Bristol is too broad."

        And the Met Office in Exeter.

        But yes, the M5 runs out at Exeter. Cornwall is basically just pasties (nom) and traffic jams (in summer).

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

          You have no idea how ironic it is that I forgot to include the Met Office!

      3. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

        not even a mainline railway

        it had a maritime railway though...

      4. The Vociferous Time Waster

        Re: "no UK Government ever spends any money west of Bristol"

        RNAS Culdrose was in Cornwall last time I checked.

  9. Alister Silver badge
    Joke

    Well there are two existing facilities, which are RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria or RAF Benbecula in Scotland, one was used for Blue Streak and the other for Trident.

    But they're probably a bit too far away from London to be considered - after all, a spaceport is a must have feature, and a status symbol, you don't want to leave it with the bloody Northeners...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It'll never go to Scotland - not much point spending on infrastructure in what will eventually be foreign soil...

      And it'll never go to Newquay, either - as far as Westminster is concerned anywhere west of the Tamar is the "Land that Time Forgot".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        West of Bristol

  10. Elmer Phud

    S'obvious, innit?

    Does Boris the unfeasably useless Johnson know about this?

    The (insert lastest 'friend of Boris' here) Spaceport with a feking 'Mayor of London' poster all over it as of he actually had anything to do with it.

    He would promise it will all be privately funded and 'somehow' need huge wedges of public funds to complete and run it.

    Though the temptation to strap him to a launch vehicle would be hard to resist.

  11. psychonaut

    Gibraltar?

    nearer the equator. also, you could use the connecting road between Gibraltar and the part of spain we havent yet annexed as the runway.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Gibraltar?

      Or you could use the actual runway, it's a bit better suited for that sort of thing...

  12. Bert 1
    Thumb Up

    Unst

    Obviously...

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    Europe's first spaceport,

    Actually it will be the second.

    Europe's first spaceport (construction started 1960) launches over half of payloads already. It's also on an East coast (in case launch aborts) and near Equator (saves fuel).

    You don't want to be under the immediate launch path.

    It's not even the UK's first, the Australians are re-furbishing Woomera,

    It's not even the first site IN Europe (though none are used any more as the European Space Port is better).

    It might be the first spaceport in the UK. But that actually makes little sense. Kenya would be cheaper. There even is some sort of disused base there already. Kenya or South America would be cheaper for launches than in Great Britain,

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Europe's first spaceport,

      Peenemunde?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Europe's first spaceport,

      The fact they're considering Newquay makes it clear enough that this "spaceport" is no such thing, but rather just a convenient base for rich boys to take their suborbital joyrides from. The only conceivable launch direction is to the west to avoid populated areas, which, combined with being more than 50° north, would from energy considerations alone make it one the worst locations anywhere for launching anything into space.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Europe's first spaceport,

        "energy considerations alone make it one the worst locations anywhere for launching anything into space."

        Launching into space is easy.

        Staying up there is the hard part.

  14. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
    Joke

    just outsidePeterborough of course

    1. killakrust

      Here, have an up-vote - PFH Fan

  15. billse10

    surely ....

    it has to be Ascension?

  16. Ben Bonsall

    ...including the aviation-related environmental impacts...

    I.e. Crashes.

  17. saif

    Manston ticks all boxes

    Airport looking for a buyer, check, ,Runway long enough for a B52 bomber, check, . Coastline on Sunny Southeast, check. Favourable west to east launch direction, check.

    1. Dave Harris

      Re: Manston ticks all boxes

      I was just going to say the same thing, I still don't know why it wasn't up for consideration as London's next airport, certainly a better option the bloody Boris island

      1. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Manston ticks all boxes

        Because the overshoot is basically.. well it is.. Ramsgate. That's probably why to both of the above. You'd have to pick up the runway and drop it down 300 meters west before it starts making any sense for anything aviation related.

        Even if there weren't good safety reasons people living there probably wouldn't be pleased about either spaceplanes or 747's taking off/landing there en masse and we'd be all about the judicial reviews for 20 years and further away from where runways are needed. And we'd still need a hub airport with > 4 runways.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Manston ticks all boxes

          "Because the overshoot is basically.. well it is.. Ramsgate."

          So? Move Ramsgate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Manston ticks all boxes

      Manston was also an emergency landing runway for the US space shuttles (when they had some) so it must pretty much already fit the criteria needed to have been selected for that role.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    half-return to Ganymede, please.

    'That's not you, mate'

    'My helmet used to be shinier'.

  19. Bunbury

    Come Back Mrs Noah

    Pontefract surely? You'll believe Mollie Sugden can fly.

  20. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Obvious location is...

    Parliament Square

    There's enough hot air coming out of Parliament to send the thing into space....

  21. ukgnome Silver badge

    you would think Norfolk would be good, or isle of man.

    But nope, somewhere close to Glasgow is on the list. Like WTF

  22. Dr. G. Freeman

    two options

    Have a couple of ideas

    1. Heathrow,so they can get that new runway they want, close to Nodnol, "easy" transport links etc. (usually Nodnol-centric thinking)

    2. RAF Kinloss, between Aberdeen and Inverness- back of beyond (safe), next to coast with big fecking runway sitting there doing nothing- but hard to get there- horse and cart for two hours from Aberdeen -we've heard of those new fangled trains, might get them or a dual carriageway out of this.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: two options

      There is Machrihanish airfield, that was certified for use by the Space Shuttle (as an abort site) and has a 10,000ft long runway.

      1. AJC

        Re: two options

        Machrihanish aka Campbeltown is on the list.

  23. Gadget1024

    The way this looks, the spaceport will be primarily for long haul passenger and a little bit of cargo. So putting it anywhere outside the UK or not in close reach of Eurostar makes it a bit pointless.

    Can't see its primary purpose being satellite launches which are best served nearer the equator and don't need quick and easy access from London to the launch site.

    Got to admit, having done the 24 hour flight to Aus in cattle class, a few hours in low orbit do appeal :)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      "Got to admit, having done the 24 hour flight to Aus in cattle class, a few hours in low orbit do appeal :)"

      Probably not an orbital flight, more likely an elongated suborbital ballistic flight. Much less heat on re-entry.

      Orbital velocity could have you there in less than 1 hour.

  24. Mage Silver badge

    long haul passenger and a little bit of cargo.

    To where?

    Arcturus?

    Australia?

  25. Christoph Silver badge

    Great idea - the UK has world-class expertise on space launch systems.

    Oh no, hang on, that was fifty years ago before they cancelled the lot just as it was ready, and dismantled all the teams with their accumulated experience and expertise. And then stonewalled every attempt to revive them.

    Why would anyone want to come to the UK to do space launches?

    1. Flatpackhamster

      The weather? The wide open spaces? The unfeasible sense of joy in every single human being in the country?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        better fish and chips?

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
          Pint

          "Green" beer? (Requires no refrigeration!)

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Why would anyone want to come to the UK to do space launches?

      because the proclaimers of free enterprise and low taxation will tax the proles to give you a subsidy and a number that works in an offshore bank.,

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      "Oh no, hang on, that was fifty years ago before they cancelled the lot just as it was ready, and dismantled all the teams with their accumulated experience and expertise. And then stonewalled every attempt to revive them."

      Black Arrow managed to launch a single small satellite at roughly the same time that NASA were firing 3000 ton Saturn 5 missions and driving golf buggies on the moon. They were just too under-invested and slow. The cash had all gone to Concorde.

      In fact much of the UK tech (which had begun as nuclear missile development) went to Europe as a first stage and seeded the eventual development of Arianne.

      UK is still very good at space craft though, just lost the launcher tech.

      1. Dan Paul

        Concorde WAS a spaceplane of sorts

        The US BX-70 test aircraft that the Concorde was designed on, was being tested to be a sub orbital bomber when it was canceled.

        The engines were modified so they could go self contained and use proprietary oxidizers instead of air The fuel was still JP4 but they tried several types of oxidizer, including Uranium Pentoxide. Some of that testing was done by Bell Aerospace in a facility in Ransomville, NY USA. That may have given some creedence to the rumors about contrails being bad for your health.

        If this design had all been finalized and built, the USAF could have had a plane that could have taken off from fairly conventional airports that could have operated just like the Concorde except be capable of space flight. I seem to remember there was a Pan AM version shown in 2001 A Space Odessey.

  26. Outcast

    Alconbury.

    iirc it has the second longest runway in the UK which is no longer being used and it has excellent road links to get to it.

    And it whooshes over John Majors house which is a flange benefit !!

    1. Alister Silver badge

      question, is a flange benefit greater or lesser than a fringe benefit?

      1. Toltec

        "question, is a flange benefit greater or lesser than a fringe benefit?"

        Depends if you would rather receive a benefit aimed at your fringe or your flange...

  27. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Prestwick, naturally

    Already cleared by NASA for Shuttle recovery, it's stupidly long and pretty isolated (but with rail links for bringing in the heavy bits.

  28. Jason Hindle

    Skylon?

    "There are good reasons to doubt that the real operational spaceports of the future will involve runways or spaceplanes. No orbit-capable, commercially significant runway spacecraft seem likely to appear on anything like the government's timeline. El Reg explores the subject in more depth here."

    I must admit, I'd assumed any space-port would be predicated on Skylon or similar.

  29. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    And the winner is...

    The WW2 RAF base at Twatt!

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/34279925

  30. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm assuming the minimum it requires would be...

    A local pub filled with scum and villainy, and an ION cannon with which to clear the way of other bigger and angrier spaceships.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll go somewhere in the south

    But not too close to the posh houses. They want to see it, not have their gin & tonic disturbed by it.

    Where is *should* go is somewhere a bit more North to help stimulate the economy up there, but when has Westminster given two shits about anything outside of the Home Counties?

    Of course, not in the UK but nearer the equator in the first damned place would be even better!

  32. loosebruce

    RAF Spadeadam

    Former testing site for development of Nuclear missiles and other rockets.

    In the middle of nowhere.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SW1A 0AA

  34. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Sea Pauling.

  35. BongoJoe

    Llanbedr

    The locals are hoping that it comes here because the noise from the spaceport would be infinitely less than the noise from the RAF/USAF flying at Mach five million just forty-five inches above the houses.

  36. 314thIteration

    RAF Mildenhall?

    The Americans are leaving RAF Mildenhall which has good road links, long runway, was a Shuttle Abort site and is in the East of the UK, but is a tad close to Lakenheath.

    RAF Coltishall is probably going cheap, but has been closed for a long time, only connected with awful roads and the Category 3 prison might not convey the impression of a bright new future the British Government is aiming for.

  37. BobRocket

    Aberporth

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberporth_Airport

    The runway is only 1,257 m but it could be extended.

    The nearby M.o.D. range is used for testing rockets by the British military, as well as for launching civil rockets for atmospheric research.

  38. Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen - he was #1!

    It reminds me of this

    http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000R8hEYPe4Ojc/s/900/720/Ed-McLachlan-Cartoons-Punch-1969-11-12-787-88.jpg

    The Britnik space station...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    West Wales?

    How about the soon to be closed Cawdor barracks... formerly USAF Brawdy.... prior to that RNAS Brawdy.

    Sparsely populated area, coastal county on the west coast, the area could do with the boost and the site has plenty of open space , runway facilities and areas for support buildings.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gatwick...

    ...Obviously.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    planning permission

    where can I write an angry, angry letter to, protesting the horror reaching the sky by my shed and ruining my unspoilt view of over the virginal, rolling for miles tin-roofls of yesteryear?

  42. Refugee from Windows

    Formby, Lancashire

    I'm surprised, none have spotted the Dan dare connection.

  43. paulc

    RAF Marham?

    nah... the Royals won't like that, they treat it as their own personal airfield just a short distance from Sandringham...

  44. s. pam
    Headmaster

    We put it.....

    In yoUranus!

    Wasn't that bleedingly obvious El Reg?

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