A piece of HALO tartan which travelled all the way the International Space Station has been returned to Kilmarnock by Professor David Alexander OBE, Director of the Rice Space Institute in Houston, Texas.

David was instrumental in having the HALO tartan taken into space by Astronaut Kate Rubins, a NASA flight engineer, as part of Expedition 64 in October 2020.

The unique tartan made its way back to the HALO today before Marie Macklin CBE, Founder and Executive Chair of the HALO, was presented with an official NASA video including a message from Kate.

The specially commissioned HALO tartan was designed by Ayrshire College student Graham Bone who won a competition to design and produce his very own tartan.

The return of the HALO tartan came as a Barclays Eagle Lab event highlighting the opportunities that Prestwick Spaceport will bring to Ayrshire and the local economy was held at the HALO Enterprise and Innovation Centre.

Over 100 guests attended the joint event with the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF) projects – Supply Chain AeroSpace (SCA) and the Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite (ADVS). The event was designed to showcase the opportunities that Prestwick Spaceport is bringing to Ayrshire and the local economy.

SCA and ADVS will both help develop the new Aerospace & Space Technology Application Centre in Prestwick and plans are progressing to develop Europe’s leading space hub alongside Scotland’s largest aerospace cluster at Prestwick. Horizontal launch activities are planned from Prestwick Spaceport from 2023.

The next generation of engineers from Ayrshire could soon choose to work in the space industry with £80m being invested in Prestwick Spaceport as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

Marie Macklin CBE said: “My vision is for the HALO to go global so to see the HALO tartan make it all the way to the International Space Station is out of this world and a huge honour.

“I’d like to thank David, Kate and everyone at the Rice Space Institute and NASA who made this happen and for also appearing at today’s event hosted by our partner Barclays.

“Huge opportunities in the space industry are coming to Ayrshire as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal and I’m really proud that the HALO was able to play its part in highlighting these to the local community.”

David Alexander OBE said: “I was really pleased to be able to make my first ever visit to the HALO today and return the HALO tartan to Marie and her team.

“The HALO is a wonderful project that has a particular relevance for me as I grew up in the housing schemes of Glasgow where opportunities were scarce.

“I was lucky enough to have access to a good education in Scotland and this has really helped me in my career and it is wonderful to see first-hand all the hard work the HALO is doing to provide opportunities to local young people and help broaden access to a wealth of talent that doesn’t always get the chance it deserves.”

Jonathan Errici, Eco-System Manager at the Barclays Eagle Lab based at the HALO, said: “I’m really passionate about showcasing how the local community can play a big part in the future of the space industry which is set to grow and grow in Ayrshire.

“Today’s event was all about highlighting the opportunities that Prestwick Spaceport will bring to Ayrshire and the local economy – it was a huge success.

“As a HALO partner, Barclays Eagle Labs is based at the HALO’s #RockMe Trading Floor to support anyone with plans to grow their business whether they are a start-up, scale-up or an entrepreneur.”