I never thought I'd really be able to say this, but the future of commercial space travel is closer to becoming a reality than ever before. I, for one, could not be more excited!
Ok, maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up because this is years away and will probably cost more than I could ever afford. But, still! Commercial space travel! Tourism in space!
Britain is planning to build its own spaceport, the first one of the same kind that would be outside of the United States, according to a report from The Guardian. The country would like construction on it to be done by 2018. The spaceport could then be used to launch both manned missions, as well as commercial satellites. That could also include commercial space flights from companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR.
As of right now, there seem to be eight potential locations for the spaceport, and, according to the BBC News, six of them are in Scotland.
"I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel," Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told the BBC.
An official announcement regarding the new spaceport is expected to come on Tuesday.
There is currently only one spaceport that has the ability to transport commercial passengers: Spaceport America, which is located in New Mexico. Tenants of the spaceport include Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, UP Aerospace, and Armadillo Aerospace and though the fact that no commercial flights have been launched yet, they are expected to start later this year.
In fact, just days ago Virgin Galactic sold hundreds of spcae flights for $250,000 apiece. The flights will be 150 minutes long, and will take passengers to a height of around 62 miles, or over 327,000 feet. for comparison, the typical airplane will take passengers 35,000 feet or just over 6 miles.
Passengers will experience around six minutes of zero gravity. It doesn't sound like much, but I can only imagine what the view must be from up there.
Obviously building such a port in Europe would make it easier to get on such a flight without having to fly hours over the Atlantic Ocean and most of the United States to get there.
Even more importantly, this would mean big business for the country. The Guardian also reported that Britain's space industry sector has grown by 7.2% over the past two years and is now worth more than £11 billion. It is expected to be worth £40 billion in 2030.
(Image source: komar.de)