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Saturday, August 12, 2006


BILLIONAIRE businessman Richard Branson is considering turning a Scottish RAF base into a space airport. [call it a spaceport - Neil]

Bosses from Virgin Galactic were visiting RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland today, to see if it could be used for take-off.

The firm, which is part of Sir Richard's Virgin empire, is planning to send passengers 87 miles above Earth using spaceships attached to aeroplanes.

Customers who pay around £106,000 for a ticket will get to experience five minutes of weightlessness during their ride.

Five spaceships and two aircraft are being built over the next four years, with flights possibly starting in 2008.

From the Scotsman. The whole new current space effort owes absolutely nothing to NASA, ESA & government agencies generally & has happened because some years ago somebody put up a $10 million X-Prize for the first private enterprise craft to get into space. Who would have thought this would affect Lossiemouth. This is the thing about new technology - you never know everything it can achieve until you have done it.Lossiemouth, for overseas readers is a town in the north of Scotland with a large RAF base & not, as described in Yes Minister, a disease.

The X-Prize has been so successful that Branson has a competitor based in Singapore. It seems that he is intending to show clients the Aurora Borealis from space, which sounds breathtaking & so is flying from a northern location whereas Space Adventures is, more conventionally, taking advantage of the extra centripetal force available at the equator.

Some years agoIi tried to get politicians to at least look at putting up a small sum towards a Scottish X-Prize but the party (now proposing to spend $3 billion on a railway) weren't interested. Oh well. It seems history moves on.

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