Is­lan­ders to boldly go into space busi­ness

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Graeme Mur­ray

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.’

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