The big day is here. For all of us who have been following it, the Scottish independence referendum is tonight, the 18th September 2014.
With the referendum being later today, and the potential for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom, it is important for us to understand, from a perspective on space exploration and research, what would happen if Scotland votes yes, and separates, or if it votes no, and stays.
If Scotland stays united with the United Kingdom Scotland could host the first dedicated base for space planes in the country.
Ministers want to establish the UK spaceport by 2018, only four years away. This would be the first of its kind outside of the US. Eight aerodromes have been accepted by the government and Scotland has six of the accepted potential locations – making it a likely candidate for the base.
The government of Scotland has said that the only thing that would lead to advancement in the space industry is for them to separate and become independent.
For the space industry, and the ministers, the major interest in a UK spaceport is as a facility capable for satellite launches, and attracting tourist.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander implied that if Scotland does not separate, it can become a crucial player in the UK government's future plans for developing commercial space travel.
"I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel.” He said.
"Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong's Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency's first satellite.” Explained Alexander.
"The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future." He added.
It looks that the stakes are high for tonight’s referendum, of course there are many pros and cons for Scotland to separate, however, if Scotland becomes independent, there will likely not be a new base for space planes, causing the UK’s space program to slow down, and could eventually come to a steady stop. Yet if the do not separate and stay within the United Kingdom, we will see a new base for space planes in Scotland, and an advancement in space travel and exploration.
"Scotland could be base for spaceport, says UK government." BBC News. N.p., 12 July 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.