The topic of European small spaceports is gaining more and more traction in the past year, following announcements and concrete plans outlined in a number of countries such as the UK and Portugal, among others. The European news outlet Politico.eu interviewed ESPI senior researcher Matteo Tugnoli regarding these developments.
The article discusses the latest developments and “race” to establish the first European commercial small spaceport. Indeed, a number of European countries have outlined concrete plans to establish such a spaceport to launch small payloads in orbit from their national soil, either through vertical or horizontal launch. On top of the existing sounding rocket launch facilities present in Norway and Sweden, which could be expanded to provide orbital launches, the UK, Portugal and Italy also are candidates to build a spaceport in Sutherland, the Azores and in Apulia, respectively.
Micro launchers – and commercial small spaceports – remain a hot topic in the space sector. Whilst Rocket Lab’s electron, the first modern micro launcher developed in the “New Space” era, is already operational, several other companies, including in Europe, are on the verge of finalising the production of their own vehicles to tackle the small satellite commercial launch market.
ESPI published a study on business and policy perspectives for micro launchers in 2018. The link to the Politico.eu article as well as the executive summary of this study can be found below.