Space port could be built in Severn Estuary

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 May 2012

Here's a light-hearted look at what the Severn Estuary could look like if the plans go ahead

Here's a light-hearted look at what the Severn Estuary could look like if the plans go ahead

Archant

SPACE shuttles carrying tourists beyond the Earth’s atmosphere could blast off from a man-made island in the Severn Estuary.

And the plan is no late April Fools joke, but a proposal put forward by a group of leading businessmen - and backed by Weston’s MP.

A report by the influential Institute of Directors (IoD) says building such a base, which could be used for both air and space travel, would help the United Kingdom’s aerospace industry take off.

And some of its findings have been backed by the resort’s MP and tourism minister, John Penrose.

The report, entitled Space - Britain’s New Infrastructure Frontier, says the UK must get on board a private space race to offer ‘taxi’ flights into space.

It reads: “Globally, the squeeze on public space agencies such as NASA is leading to a private sector space revolution, with steep cuts in the cost of getting cargo into orbit.

“A massive opportunity beckons for the UK, should we choose to understand and embrace it.”

The £8billion UK aerospace sector currently employs 25,000 people and supports 60,000 more, but the report says the creation of a space port in the estuary could provide far more for the economy.

The proposal is based on a 2003 plan by businessman Michael Stephen for a Severnside International Airport, which could be built for £2billion.

The report continues: “A dual-purpose space/airport at Severnside could possibly be a new way forward, although the problem of a spaceport at present needing its own undisturbed high-altitude air corridor could still remain.”

It is unclear what effect any potential spaceport would have on Bristol Airport.

Although the plans are only at the drawing board, Mr Penrose has already lent them his support.

He said: “Building a space station in the Severn Estuary might sound a bit outlandish, but the space sector already employs 25,000 people in the UK and is expected to grow to four times this in the next few years, so the economic potential is very real.

“And with hi-tech aerospace firms like Airbus already based in the Bristol area, it really shows our area is ready to become a new hub for cutting-edge technologies.”


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