9 Shet­land ‘ideal for launch­ing satel­lites’

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

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