Spaceport Snowdonia to play key role in Welsh galactic strategy

Wales is aiming to be the world’s first sustainable space nation by 2040 and has released a report on how it plans to meet that goal.

The strategy is varied and includes highlighting current Wales projects and businesses, including Space Forge, which is seeking to create new materials that would allow for the reuse of satellites.

Several key aspects of the strategy are based in Snowdonia.

Chief among them is Spaceport Snowdonia, a project that has been in the works since 2014.

A spaceport is like an airport, only instead of being a designated area for aeroplanes to take off and land, it’s meant for spacecraft. It is also an area for the launching of satellites.

Snowdonia was approved in 2014 by the UK Space Agency as a possible candidate for a UK spaceport. In 2020, the Spaceport Snowdonia project received funding from the UKSA’s Horizontal Spaceport Development Fund to move forward. A draft masterplan is already in place for the scheme.

Not much has been shared about the spaceport’s progress since then. But the “Wales: a sustainable space nation” report outlines the project’s plans to achieve spaceport certification by the end of this year and be fully operational by 2025.

Spaceport Snowdonia would be more than just a satellite launching facility. It would function as a multi-use campus to support research and training for the space industry.

In the report, Spaceport Snowdonia is described as “ideally positioned to be a major research, development, test and evaluation centre for upstream space-related activities in the UK and to be able to provide spaceflight training and near-space flight experience”.

Next steps for the project include securing £65,000 in funding for an economic impact assessment and associated planning work. It also needs to get funding for flood defence design works and modelling.

Spaceport Snowdonia is working on getting approval to have its location designated as restricted airspace. It aims to have its spaceport license by the end of the year.

As part of the spaceport campus, Spaceflight Academy has said it will begin planning the development of a spaceflight experience and training facility at the Llanbedr airfield within 18 months. The academy would help educate the public on what being in space would feel like. It would also provide aeromedical training through a partnership with King’s College in London.

Spaceport Snowdonia is not the only spaceport project in the UK. The UK Space Agency has identified six other commercial spaceport sites in Cornwall, Sutherland, Shetland, Prestwick, Argyll and North Uist.

Read the ‘Wales: a sustainable space nation’ report

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