SCOTLAND’s ambition to become Europe’s leading space nation by 2030 takes another step forward today.

US company Mangata Networks has now joined our burgeoning space sector and has chosen Ayrshire as the location for its satellite manufacturing facility and research and development hub.

Through Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government is providing £54.5 million in loans for the development at Prestwick International Aerospace Park, as well as further funding through the Ayrshire Growth Deal, which will create up to 575 high-quality jobs.

The majority of the roles will be highly-paid, highly-skilled technical engineering positions in product development, designing and manufacturing satellites, and operating the system end-to-end.

The new facility will be capable of qualifying, integrating and testing satellites up to 1500kg in size for the space and launch environments, and will produce and test more than 24 medium-class satellites every three months.

This is a particularly exciting announcement in the current climate and demonstrates our determination to push forward with plans to transform Scotland’s economy, even in the face of gale-force financial headwinds.

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Mangata’s new location isn’t just welcome news for the space and manufacturing sectors, it is also testament to our recent success in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

Recent EY Annual Attractiveness survey results show we are leading the UK in attracting FDI, with a 14% increase in 2021, compared with just 1.8% across the UK as a whole. The same survey also found that three Scottish cities are in the top 10 locations outside London for attracting FDI, which is testament to our regional approach and highlights the attractiveness of investing all over Scotland.

These results indicate that our values-led approach to investment – set out in our Inward Investment Plan – is delivering, and underlines the important ongoing contribution of inward investment to our National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).

The space sector is a key opportunity area for increasing FDI as set out in the plan, and the focus on research and development and advanced manufacturing will embed Mangata in Scotland with close links to academia and local suppliers.

Scotland has big ambitions for growing the space sector. In partnership with industry and academia, we launched the first Scottish Space Strategy in 2021, laying out the next steps to grow the sector in Scotland, while supporting innovation and delivering on the potential of the space sectorindustry.

We already have five spaceports in development, with launches scheduled to take place from Saxa Vord and Sutherland spaceports early next year, while more small satellites are manufactured in Scotland than anywhere else in the world outside California.

And we have expertise in data gathering and analysis: Scotland is the data-driven capital of Europe, hosting the largest centre for informatics in Europe and having more than 170 data sciences companies.

We have world-class research institutions, demonstrated as Scottish skills and innovation played an important role in the development of the instruments on board the James Webb Space Telescope.

A key commitment of NSET is delivering on our climate change targets and reaching net zero by 2045. In September, I launched the world’s first Sustainable Space Roadmap, which sets out how we will lead by example by growing the space sector in a responsible and effective manner that we can be proud of as we tackle the global emergency that is climate change.

The Scottish space sector is passionate about the role of space in addressing climate change, from the development of Space Hub Sutherland, set to become the “greenest spaceport in the world”, through to the creation of innovative, lightweight and environmentally friendly launch vehicles that will deploy small satellites into orbit that undertake important roles such as monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and global wildfires.

It is an exciting time for the Scottish space sector but there is still a lot to do. With hard work, innovative thinking and delivering on the aims of Scotland’s Space Strategy, we can reach for the stars.

Ivan McKee is the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise.