In 2013, the first ‘space tourists’ are scheduled to take off from a Virgin Galactic spaceport in New Mexico in the US. Though the venture headed by Richard Branson is yet to fully launch, it seems that expansion plans are already being explored.
The rumoured expansion does not quite extend to the Moon or Mars just yet, but the Scottish highlands could well be on the radar.
This is certainly the hope of The Department for Business, who want to boost the UK’s space industry worth from £3.6 billion to £40 billion annually over the next two decades.
This would also swell the number of people employed directly or indirectly by the industry, which is already at 85,000. To help the industry as a whole, the government is expected to announce plans for commercial finance in Scotland and throughout the UK for ventures looking to the stars.
The site being touted for the spaceport is RAF Lossiemouth, said to be ideally located away from high population areas.
With no firm plans in place however, Scotland could potentially lose out to another base in Europe, with Sweden likely candidates having already created a spaceport.
Industry commentators also suspect that the UAE could be the first viable sites outside of the US.
This does not mean such a venture would never happen though.
Other services such as XCOR Aerospace and Curacao are looking to launch over the next two to three years. A European venture, Project Enterprise is also looking for launch sites, though their flights could be some years away.