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Peter Anderson, COO of AAC Clyde Space

Space technology industry in Scotland

Scotland's space technology sector is growing rapidly and offers huge opportunities for investors. Learn about our capabilities in space manufacturing, launch and data. Explore our network of skills, expertise and business support.

Did you know?

Scotland is a world leader in sustainable space technology.

  • Up to 90% less carbon

    is produced by green rocket fuels used by Scottish companies.

  • The world's first carbon-neutral spaceport

    is in progress at Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.

  • A 50% drop in space sector emissions

    will be achieved by 2030 — with a goal to reach net zero by 2045.

Scotland's space technologies and industry capabilities

Over the last 20 years, Scotland has developed powerful capabilities in several areas of space technology.

These capabilities include: 

  • Small satellite manufacturing
  • Rocket and launch vehicle manufacturing
  • Vertical and horizontal launch
  • Data analysis
  • Earth observation

Scottish technology has supported missions to Mars and deep space exploration with the James Webb Space Telescope. 

Now, Scotland is set to become the next big commercial space launch nation.

Investing here means you can access a range of connected space services from one location. With multiple spaceports developing launch facilities, the country provides the ideal location and low-risk conditions to reach low Earth orbit.

Scotland's advances in space research

Scotland is a world leader in space data analysis and research. Our space industry often uses or supplies data to help solve challenges that affect the whole world.

Our satellite data has been used to:

  • Track elephant migration
  • Classify more than 240 billion trees
  • Monitor biodiversity loss and gas levels

Scotland is also using research to reduce the carbon footprint of its space industry.

The Scottish Government recently published the Scottish Space Sustainability Roadmap. This is a world-first strategy for a sustainable space sector. We're on track to cut 50% of space industry emissions by 2030, with a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

A number of Scotland's space sector activities support this focus on sustainability. These include the use of green rocket fuels and research into reducing space junk. 

Scotland's space sector opportunities

Explore some of Scotland's most exciting space tech investment opportunities.

Scotland has a long and successful history of manufacturing. Our workforce has expertise and experience in areas like electronics, aerospace, and subsea oil and gas engineering. 

These skills — combined with our talent for invention — are now flowing into our dynamic and fast-growing space sector.

Satellite manufacturing companies

Scotland is one of the world's leading small satellite manufacturers.

The country has attracted some of the world’s most innovative satellite manufacturers. These include:

  • Alba Orbital — a company that manufactures and supports PocketQube satellites
  • AAC Clyde Space — CubeSat pioneers that offer ready-to-use solutions
  • Spire — a company that designs, builds and tests nanosatellites entirely in Scotland

These companies have been able to make great use of Scotland's engineering expertise. They've also joined a robust supply chain with strengths in satellite components, cables and communications, sensors, photonics, and CubeSat modules.

Rocket and launch vehicle manufacturing companies

Scotland has the potential to become Europe's top small satellite launch market. 

In Scotland, launch vehicle manufactures can easily access spaceports and skilled engineering talent. As well as this, our innovative funding and investment schemes can help you scale up.

These advantages have attracted several top launch manufacturers, including:

  • Orbex — a low-cost launch services company developing low-carbon micro-launch vehicles
  • Skyrora — a company that designs, manufactures and deploys rockets for small satellite manufacturers that need to access space

Ground station antenna manufacturing

High-tech start-up Celestia recently chose to set up its headquarters in Edinburgh. This gave the company the chance to collaborate with Heriot-Watt University’s antenna research group. This partnership has since produced electronic scanning antennas based on active phase arrays for ground stations.

Scotland's flexible space launch capabilities

Scotland is a leader in UK launch capabilities. Five locations across the country are developing launch plans:

These launch sites will create an end-to-end capability to design, test and build small satellites in Scotland. This means you'll have shorter supply lines, easier communications and reduced costs.

Scotland is also the ideal choice for the development of your launch vehicle. Sub-orbital capability will be available at Spaceport 1 in the Outer Hebrides. Engine testing capability will be available in Kinloss, Shetland and Machrihanish.

Scotland: the ideal space launch location

Scotland’s smaller size makes it easy to connect with launch sites. This means you can launch satellites without the need for ride sharing and keep more control over where the satellite goes.

Scotland's Highlands and Islands offer a strategic location to easily reach low earth orbits using vertical launch. The landscape benefits from wide, open areas, and the nearby coast reduces the risk from launch vehicle debris.

As well as three sites for vertical launch, there are also opportunities for horizontal launch. Astraius — the UK's first commercial horizontal launch company for small to midsized satellites — is working with Prestwick Spaceport to deliver horizontal launch services. The first launches will take place from as early as 2024.

Scotland's advantages as a launch location are already attracting global attention. A range of companies — including US-based Lochhead Martin and ABL Space Systems, and German launch vehicle manufacturers Rocket Factory Augsburg and HyImpulse — are looking to launch from Scotland.

Why Scotland is a world leader in space data collection

Edinburgh is known as the 'space data capital of Europe'. This is because there is a large number of space data science companies located in the city. They benefit from easy access to Edinburgh's world-class data science academic network.

This capability exists throughout Scotland. Over 25 companies in Scotland use earth observation data to create insights for their businesses. Applications cover many different sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, energy transition, maritime and green finance.

Scotland's space data users range from nature tech companies such as Space Intelligence to sustainability reporting services such as Ecometrica.

Get world-class support for your space data project

If you invest in Scotland's space sector, you'll have the support of several excellent research and development organisations:

Using this expertise, Scotland has created a global hub for space data applications. Many of these applications align with Scotland's net zero ambitions.

So, whether you want to measure shrinking forests, monitor animal biodiversity or use satellite-driven intelligence to commercialise real-time applications across the globe, Scotland’s data sector can help you.

Scotland's top space tech locations

Scotland’s smaller size creates the perfect conditions for a connected infrastructure and space tech ecosystem. Being part of Scotland’s thriving space community means you'll be close to customers, industry partners and spaceports. This makes collaboration much more convenient.

Learn about five of Scotland's most important space tech locations:

North Coast Space Cluster aims to use the vertical launch site Sutherland Spaceport as a starting point for a leading space cluster for the North of Scotland.

This area as already seen significant investment from Orbex in Forres. Enterprise Park Forres provides a business space for manufacturing, engineering and technology businesses.

The island of Unst — the UK's most northerly location — is surrounded by open ocean. It provides the perfect geography for Saxa Vord Spaceport.

Shetland has a long history of supplying complex industries such as oil and gas. This means you'll find the knowledge and experience you need to support your space launch requirements.

Research from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University is some of the best in the world. It contributes to Edinburgh’s emerging reputation as the ‘space data capital of Europe’.

This reputation is thanks to the range of space data companies based in Scotland's capital, which include Ecometrica, Global Surface Intelligence, Earth Blox, Space Intelligence and Terrabotics.

Space companies locating here also benefit from nearby innovation centres, which include the Bayes Centre, the National Robotarium and Higgs Centre for Innovation.

This flourishing ecosystem attracts both Scottish companies and global investors such as Celestia.

Scottish satellite manufacturers Clyde Space and Alba Orbital, as well as US leaders such as Spire, have made Glasgow a small satellite manufacturing leader.

Beyond small satellites, the Glasgow area is also attracting launch vehicle manufacturers. These include Skyrora, which has set up a manufacturing site and headquarters in East Kilbride. 

The Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are home to lots of space-related innovation. For R&D-focused operations that want to be close to these campuses, the Glasgow City Innovation District and the Tontine Business Accelerator provide excellent co-location opportunities in Glasgow’s city centre.

The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) is based just eight miles outside Glasgow.

Prestwick Spaceport is being developed at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, an operational airport on the west coast of Scotland. The project has secured funding through the Ayrshire Growth Deal, and it has a commercial launch partner in Astraius.

Astraius’s flexible air launch solution can respond directly to the market. It will help you get your satellites where they need to go in record time. The first commercial horizontal rocket launches are planned to take place as soon as 2024.

In the future, Prestwick Spaceport will provide a range of services. These include air launch of satellites, microgravity flights and hypersonic flights services. 

Prestwick offers a unique mix of benefits, including latitude, over-sea take-off and meteorological conditions. As well as this, it hosts a large number of innovative companies, such as Spirit AeroSystems, GE Caledonian, Collins Aerospace and BAE Systems.

Investment in Prestwick will provide infrastructure for a robust space supply chain, accessible by road, rail, sea and air. This includes fuel storage, payload processing and mission control.

Scottish space company success stories

Learn about some of the space technology companies that have invested in Scotland and joined our thriving space tech community.

Spire Global

US-based Spire Global chose Scotland for its European base in 2015. It was impressed with the speed and ease of setting up, along with Scotland’s innovation support. The facility has grown from a small office in Glasgow to a huge premises with manufacturing and testing capability for Spire's entire global satellite constellation.


UK launch company Orbex has set up operations in Forres, near Inverness. The company was excited by the proximity to Sutherland Spaceport and the skilled workers available. The facility includes a rocket design and integration facility, an operations centre, and executive offices.

Business support for space engineering companies

Community is a central part of doing business in Scotland. If you invest here, you'll join a business environment with open doors, opportunities and solutions everywhere you look.

When you invest in Scotland, you'll have the backing of industry, academia and government. These partners work closely together to promote and grow the Scottish space sector.

Space talent and centres of excellence

Scotland's space community connects academia and industry with cutting-edge research and technology. This means space companies can find quick and efficient solutions to their challenges.

Scotland's centres of excellence give businesses access to world-leading space expertise.

Read more about some top Scottish space centres of excellence:

  • Heriot-Watt University opens in a new window is developing new front-end solutions for satellite communication systems. It runs a range of projects funded by the European Space Agency and in partnership with leading European space companies.
  • The University of Strathclyde opens in a new window has a wide range of technical expertise in space technologies that can boost business innovation. Key areas include small satellite technology and engineering, space mechatronics, and space sustainability.
  • Space Glasgow opens in a new window is an umbrella group for various space activities at the University of Glasgow. It's home to spaceflight and exploration laboratories focused on gravitational waves, spacecraft construction, plume-surface interactions and ground exploration.
  • At the University of Edinburgh opens in a new window , researchers and staff work on a large range of space technology activities. These include space data analysis, Earth observation, rocket fuels, space debris and science at extreme conditions.

Space innovation centres, incubators and accelerators

There is a strong ecosystem of innovation centres, incubators and accelerators for space companies across Scotland. They help businesses spark ideas and find talent.

This network includes:

Access space agency support

Scotland also benefits from the wider support network of the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

UK Space Agency (UKSA)

The UKSA works to meet the UK’s space technology needs and to help us better understand our universe.

The UKSA supports innovation and investment. It advocates for the UK’s space capabilities and helps to develop the country's next generation of scientists and engineers.

Learn more about the UKSA on the UK Government's website opens in a new window  

European Space Agency (ESA)

The UK is a founding member of the ESA. This close relationship means UK-based companies often take part in space programmes and activities with partners from across Europe and the rest of he world.

The UK leads the world in science outputs from the ESA missions. It supports a large number of businesses through its ESA Business Incubation Centre and funding schemes.

Learn more on the ESA website opens in a new window  


You might also be interested in

  • Harnessing satellite data for businesses and the environment

    Learn how Scotland is using data from space to help minimise emissions and manage the impact of climate change. 

  • Scotland's people and skills

    Scotland has the perfect mix of traditional industry skills and tech expertise to help you grow your space business. Explore our community of top talent.

  • Our partners and networks

    We can connect you to the right people, in the right place and at the right time — helping you make the right connections for your business to flourish in Scotland. 

Got a question?

If you'd like to learn more about Scotland's space tech landscape, get in touch with one of our expert advisers.