A spaceport is a giant leap closer – but what is it?

In a response to the Civil Aviation Authority’s consultation on possible locations for a UK spaceport, the government shortlisted sites at Campbeltown, Glasgow Prestwick and Stornoway (all in Scotland) as well as Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales.

Two airfields at RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks were ruled out for operational reasons given their “role in defence and associated MOD [Ministry of Defence] objections”.

In response to the announcement, Richard Ford, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, noted that “the key next stage will be the government developing a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements”. This would help, he added, in an understanding of ‘what is a spaceport’.

Having done our research, we believe that a spaceport is some kind of launching pad for space flights. Nonetheless, Ford’s comments lead us to ponder whether this is the first major infrastructure project where – impressive as it sounds – there is confusion over what is actually to be built. Understanding that would no doubt be a giant leap.