9 Shetland ‘ideal for launching satellites’
SHETLAND has been identified as an “ideal location” for satellite launches in Britain, according to a report commissioned by the UK Space Agency.
It has led to the formation of a local company to drive development in what the firm says could potentially be a “major new sector” of the Shetland economy.
Unst-based Shetland Space Centre has already had expressions of interest from commercial firms and the military.
The company was created after a report, commissioned by the UK Space Agency, singled out Saxa Vord on the north of the island 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], from where direct launch is possible to both SSO [Sun-Synchronous] and Polar orbits.”
Regulations dictate that spacecraft do not fly over “populated areas” and the north of Unst would give satellite launchers a clear, unobstructed route into orbit.
Other locations, the report says, would require “dog-leg turns” restricting payload size or carrying capacity of a rocket.
Frank Strang, director of the Shetland Space Centre, said: “We all know that Shetland has fantastic infrastructure and transport links, lots of very able people and a track record second to none in innovating to support industry.
“Key decision makers are recognising that, and it’s important that we all work together in Shetland to deliver tangible benefits across the islands.”