AN APPLICATION has officially been submitted that could see satellites launched from Prestwick Airport.

It may only be one small step for the plans to set up a spaceport in the town - but it could be a giant leap for Prestwick if the proposals come to fruition.

South Ayrshire Council has officially begun the application process by writing up a Proposal of Application Notice (POAN).

If it goes ahead, the development will see horizontal launches taking place from Prestwick - making it the only location in Europe to be able to do so - by the end of 2023.

The submission of a POAN is the beginning of the process, but it signifies the council's intent to apply for planning permission later this year.

It follows the council’s submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report last year which they say confirms that Prestwick’s space ambitions will not result in any significant adverse effects to the environment.

Councillor Peter Henderson, leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “Prestwick Spaceport has achieved another milestone by filing a POAN for its development.

"The POAN starts the process for Prestwick Spaceport submitting its formal planning application later this year.”  

“This follows on from Prestwick Spaceport securing a launch provider, Astraius, in September last year,” continued Councillor Peter Henderson.

“By securing a launch partner and beginning the planning process, South Ayrshire is on its way to establishing Prestwick Spaceport and ensuring an exciting future for our local communities and making South Ayrshire part of the global space economy.”

The Spaceport would see Astraius, the leading UK-based commercial horizontal launch company send satellites, such as shoebox sized CubeSats, into space.

They will do so by having an aircraft carrying a rocket climb high into the atmosphere.

Once safely beyond inhabited areas and above the densest layer of the atmosphere, the rocket leaves the aircraft, ignites its engines, and carries the satellites into orbit.

These small satellites can be used for a host of applications, such as monitoring climate change or tracking food supply chains to ensure that products in supermarkets are sustainably sourced.

Prestwick aims to conduct its first rocket launch by the end of 2023, a goal supported by the Ayrshire Growth Deal, a multi-million-pound funding package that was signed last year.

An £80 million portion of the Growth Deal is dedicated to securing Ayrshire’s future as a leading region in the UK’s aerospace and space engineering industries.

Those behind the plans say that the project could lead to 4,000 jobs being created in the area.

Zoe Kilpatrick, commercial director at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, said: “We are delighted to see the next stage of the Prestwick Spaceport being developed.

We are building an industry in Ayrshire which will create jobs and investment for years to come.”

“2022 will see further developments as we partner with more organisations to grow and expand our space capabilities here at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

“It is a very exciting time to be involved with the project and I look forward to seeing progress made over the coming months as we approach our first launch in 2023.”

The public will be invited to find out more about the Spaceport planning application, ask any questions about the proposed development and give their views at public consultation events to be held in February and March.

Further details will be made available in advance of these public consultations.

The Aerospace and Space project is being funded with £32 million from the UK Government, £30 million from the Scottish Government, and £18 million from South Ayrshire Council as part of the £251 million Ayrshire Growth Deal – a ten year investment programme jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments and local authorities.