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Sci-Tech

UK awards $3.3 million for Scottish spaceport

The Great British Space Age has begun.

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An artist's impression shows the proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.

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The UK Space Agency awarded £2.5 million ($3.3 million) in funding for a proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland, it announced Monday.

The funding will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the site on the A'Mhoine peninsula, on Scotland's northern coast, with the hope of launching space rockets and satellites from there.

HIE will work with a group that includes US aerospace company Lockheed Martin, BBC notes, with a goal of having launches in the early 2020s. Also part of the group is UK-based rocket-builder Orbex, which has raised £30 million ($39.6 million) to launch satellites from the new spaceport.

The government will offer an additional £2 million ($2.7 million) in development funds for horizontal launch sites in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia.

"The UK's thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites," said Business Secretary Greg Clark.

"This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age"

The government estimates that the commercial space sector will be worth £3.8 billion ($5 billion) to the UK economy over the next decade.

Space flight is an expensive prospect, especially for private trips. On Friday, it was reported that space journeys with Blue Origin -- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' rocket company -- could cost between $200,000 and $300,000