A ROCKET that launched 50 years ago and which was brought back from the Australian outback by a Scottish company was yesterday on show outside the Scottish Parliament as MSPs debated Scotland’s thriving space sector.

Edinburgh-based Skyrora, which is just 20 months old, unveiled Black Arrow outside Holyrood as a symbol of the UK’s leading position in the new global space race.

The firm had masterminded its return from its landing site in Southern Australia earlier this year, in a move applauded by Helen Sharman, who became the first UK astronaut in 1991.

She said its return would inspire people to find out more about Britain’s impressive space legacy.

“Space is such an integral part of every day that often we do not think about the satellites and rockets that enable our modern lives,” she said.

“Looking at Black Arrow, we can see how much science and engineering were needed to create it.

“I hope it will inspire people to find out more.”

Skyrora director, Daniel Smith, said: “Black Arrow serves as a testament to Britain’s space legacy.

“With satellites, data companies and potential launch locations, Scotland is key to the UK space sector.”

Innovation Minister, Ivan McKee, said Scotland’s space sector could be worth £4 billion by 2030.

He told MSPs: “Our ambitious plans for the space sector need strong leadership to succeed, and we are working with the Scottish Space Leadership Council, which has representatives from all parts of the sector including potential launch sites, satellite manufacturers and data analysis businesses.

“Together I’m confident we will deliver the aspiration for Scotland to become a £4bn industry by 2030 and be Europe’s leading space nation.”