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SCOTLAND could host the UK's first dedicated base for spaceplanes, according to new government plans.

Ministers want to establish the UK spaceport by 2018 - the first of its kind outside of the US.

Eight aerodromes have been shortlisted and Scotland has six of the potential locations.

The Scottish government said only independence would lead to a greater development of the country's space industry.

For ministers and the space industry, the major interest in a UK spaceport is as a facility to enable satellite launches, but hopefully it would also become a centre for tourism initiatives from specialist operators such as Virgin Galactic and XCor.

Ahead of the announcement at this week's Farnborough Airshow, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander hinted that Scotland could become a key player in the UK government's future plans for developing commercial space travel.

He said: "I am delighted 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.

"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."