The race to space tourism is on.
The British government wants to build a dedicated base for space travel, and it plans to launch in 2018.
"I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018," Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said at the Farnborough Airshow. "Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel."
The spaceport would open up opportunities for space travel from Europe. In the U.S., the only spaceport built to handle passenger planes to space is in New Mexico, where Virgin Galactic has been working on launching tourist trips for the past few years. Despite the many delays, the company says it is on track to offer $250,000 tickets to space later this year.
On Friday, the FAA approved a potential new launch site for Elon Musk's SpaceX, which has been looking for a location that would allow for prioritized private flights. SpaceX has not confirmed if it plans to move forward with the site.
Six of the eight suggested locations for the UK spaceport are in Scotland.
"Scotland has a proud association with space exploration," Alexander said. "We celebrated Neil Armstrong's Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the moon, and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency's first satellite."
UK Business Secretary Vince Cable said the space sector was thriving; according to government data, it is the fastest growing sector in the entire UK.
"This week we will announce the next steps for this country's space race, outlining how we will take one giant leap towards establishing the first British spaceport by 2018 - making the UK the place for space," Cable said.
Source: Mashable, by Jessica Plautz