'Era-defining moment' for the British spaceport SaxaVord

Britain's first vertical spaceport has been given the green light to launch rockets next year.

The industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said this was an 'era-defining moment' for the UK's £17.5 billion aerospace sector.

SaxaVord would be the first fully licensed spaceport in Western Europe that can be launched vertically into orbit. The site – a former RAF radar station – would be allowed to launch 30 rockets a year to deliver satellites into space.

SaxaVord, located on the north coast of Unst in Scotland's Shetland Islands, is expected to launch rockets in 2024. The first licensed spaceport was in Cornwall, but this one launches rockets carried horizontally by an aircraft.

Tim Johnson, CAA's director of space regulation, said: 'This marks the start of a new chapter for UK space travel.'

The future: CGI image of a rocket launch at SaxaVord

And Frank Strang, boss of SaxaVord Spaceport, said it was a “historic” moment and puts Britain “firmly at the leading edge of the European and global space economy”.

It comes as the UK Space Agency last week announced a further £6.7 million in funding for Scottish spaceport projects.