Islanders to boldly go into space business
SITTING in the windswept North Sea more than 1 0 miles off the mainland coast, it is already Scotland’s final frontier.
But now a report has identified the remote island of Unst as an ‘ideal location’ to launch satellites into space.
The paper, commissioned by the UK Space Agency, has led to the formation of a local firm to drive forward what it claims could be a ‘major new sector’ of the Shetland isle’s economy.
Shetland Space Centre has already had expressions of interest from commercial firms and the military. The company was created after the report singled out Saxa Vord on the north of Unst as the preferred site for satellite launches.
The Sceptre report, partfunded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, states: ‘The site offering the maximum payload mass to orbit is Saxavord in the Shetlands [sic].’
Regulations dictate that spacecraft do not fly over ‘populated areas’ and the north of Unst, which has a population of 632, would give satellite launchers a clear, unobstructed route into orbit.
Frank Strang, director of Shetland Space Centre, said: ‘There is tremendous potential for Unst and Shetland to become part of a fast-growing, £13.7billion sector of the UK economy that supports more than 6,000 jobs in Scotland alone.’
He added: ‘It’s exciting, but this is a long game.’