Doubts cast over suitability of Kinloss for Spaceport

Kinloss runway falls short

If Kinloss Barracks is to be chosen from eight UK candidates as the base for a new space station work will be required to extend the length of its runway.

That was the claim being made in a report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who have looked at the suitability of each of the candidates for the government-backed proposals.

An announcement on which location will be chosen from the eight on the short list – including Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth – is expected around March next year.

In the minds of most the former RAF base at Kinloss is a front runner because of its geographical location and the fact RAF Lossiemouth will soon be the home to several Typhoon fighter squadrons.

The CAA report, however, casts doubt on the suitability of Kinloss, saying: “Based on current spaceplane designs and known operating requirements, a spaceport will need to be established on a large site with a runway that is at least, or is capable of being extended to 9800ft.”

At 6000ft the runway at Kinloss falls short of that requirement and any extension would need land currently outside the base perimeter to be purchased.

Undeterred, however, in his support for Kinloss as a future spaceport, Moray’s MP Angus Robertson said: “The prospect of a Spaceport in Moray is an issue I have been pushing at both Scottish and UK Government levels for some time, as well as directly with Virgin Galactic, who are working towards passenger flights to the edge of space.

“Developing a spaceport at Kinloss would be a massive catalyst to technology industry investment in the region and a major tourist attraction as many people would undoubtedly flock to the area to see the modern spacecraft that would be launched here.

“Several years ago people described the idea as ‘pie in the sky’ but it is that type of thinking we need to get away from if we want to diversify our economy and attract unique and cutting edge activity like this to Moray.

“We should never undersell ourselves and high flying space travel could well be making Moray’s economy fly high as well!”

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