Mon 07 Aug 2023

Shetland Spaceport – getting ready to launch

Shetland Spaceport – getting ready to launch

It is reported that Shetland’s spaceport is nearing official recognition as it gets into position to launch satellites into orbit. Situated on a remote peninsula in Unst in Shetland, SaxaVord Spaceport, a former RAF base, has a 12m-high rocket launch stool with hangars and launch pads under construction.

Owners Frank and Debbie Strang have built a team of more than 80 people and are looking forward to the spaceport’s first launch, a sub-orbital rocket made by German company HyImpulse, expected in October this year. At the time of the launch, a “deluge” system will spray water to cool the rocket engine flames which will include a drainage and storage system below.

The owners are hoping to receive their licence from the Civil Aviation Authority in the coming months so that they can operate as a commercial spaceport. They will require further licences for other launches, rockets and satellites.

It is understood that £30 million is to be invested into the spaceport with five launch pads built on the site to accommodate rockets up to 35 metres long. There are also plans to build a 250-bed hotel and visitor centre near the site to appeal to those keen to seen both rare wildlife and rocket launches. The spaceport team cautions, though, that visitors’ expectations must be managed carefully given that rocket launches can be cancelled or delayed.

We look forward to commenting on the first launch if it takes place in October, as currently scheduled, and watching Scotland’s space sector grow with plans for four other spaceports: Space Hub Sutherland in the Highlands, Spaceport 1 in the Western Isles, Prestwick Spaceport in South Ayrshire and Spaceport Machrihanish in Argyll.

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This article was co-written by Arina Yazdi, Trainee Solicitor. 

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