Spaceport prepares for lift-off of first open day

The open day will showcase 11 rocket launches as part of the Mach-22 Student Launch Competition and Skills Conference.
The open day will showcase 11 rocket launches as part of the Mach-22 Student Launch Competition and Skills Conference.

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With rocket launches on the agenda, next weekend’s community open day at Spaceport Machrihanish is bound to be blast.

For the first time, on Saturday June 25, Discover Space UK will open its doors to the public for an event which will also feature local produce, workshops and music.

The highlight, however, is expected to be 11 rocket launches as part of the Mach-22 Student Launch Competition and Skills Conference.

The rockets and satellites have been designed by 11 university teams who are travelling from all over the UK to Kintyre to launch their designs.

Standing at over a metre tall, the rockets will soar up to 2.5km, eject the satellites there and then parachute back to the ground, collecting lots of interesting data.

It follows last year’s successful Mach-21 competition which saw university teams from across the UK successfully launch and retrieve small satellites – called CanSats – within the dimensions of a soft drinks’ can.

Kathie Bowden, of the UK Space Agency, said of the Mach-21 competition: ‘It was so exciting and wonderful to be part of it with all of you and to see all the students get so much out of it and their participation in the event.

‘I can’t wait for next year [Mach-22] to happen.’

While the first competition was held behind closed doors, organisers are looking forward to welcoming the community to join them on site to see the rockets fly for Mach-22.

Open day attendees will be able to purchase produce from local businesses and charities which will set up stalls on the old military airbase grounds and take part in space-themed activities.

Live music will be provided by Scottish charity Music Broth, showcasing talent from Kintyre and further afield.

Until now, Discover Space UK’s activities at the Sound of Kintyre have remained a mystery to locals.

This unique event organised by Discover Space UK, a collaboration between UK Launch Services Limited (UKLSL) and Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC), has been designed to build awareness for the spaceport and involve the community in Kintyre’s newest and most exciting industry.

Rockets have already been successfully launched from Machrihanish Airbase.
Rockets have already been successfully launched from Machrihanish Airbase.

The joint venture company was formed following a number of years of successful collaboration between UKLSL and MACC.

The company’s vision is to provide unique space access services outside of traditional orbital launches to complete the UK’s national spaceflight infrastructure.

Discover Space UK’s formation allows the realisation of the full potential of spaceflight possibilities at the site and provides complementary services to those provided by other UK spaceports, particularly inspiring and training a generation of space specialists.

Tickets for the open day, which runs from 10am to 5pm, can be purchased via Eventbrite, on the Facebook event page, or by following a link provided on Instagram and Facebook posts – both @discoverspaceuk. Tickets for children are free.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events and leader of the EventScotland team, said: ‘EventScotland is delighted to be supporting Spaceport Machrihanish community open day through our National Events Programme.

‘It joins an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events taking place across the country this year as part of the wider recovery of tourism and events in Scotland.

‘Events play an important role in our communities, enabling us all to connect, enjoy and share memorable experiences.

‘Having them in our calendar further strengthens Scotland’s outlook and position as a world-leading events destination and reinforces Scotland’s place as the perfect stage for events.’