The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - FRONT PAGE -


Shet­land could be the “ideal lo­ca­tion” for Bri­tain’s first space­port af­ter an of­fi­cial re­port high­lighted a num­ber of ma­jor fac­tors in its favour.

The UK Space Agency’s Scep­tre Re­port, part-fi­nanced by High­lands and Is­lands Enterprise, nam­ing Unst trig­gered a wave of in­ter­est from busi­ness and the mil­i­tary on the is­land.

Sub­se­quently, busi­ness­man Frank Strang and for­mer RAF fighter pi­lot Scott Ham­mond set up the Shet­land Space Cen­tre Ltd to de­velop vi­able sites.

Mr Strang said: “It is clear that the for­mer Min­istry of De­fence ae­rial farm north of Saxa Vord hill, or the old MoD site at Lamba Ness, would be ideal for satel­lite launches.

“It’s ex­cit­ing, but this is a long game and we will be work­ing to­gether with Shet­land Is­lands Coun­cil, the UK Space Agency and other stake­hold­ers to progress our plans.”

Lo­cal MSP Tav­ish Scott strongly backed the move to win the space­port bid. He said: “Unst is the best ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion for satel­lite launches in the UK.”

Mr Scott added: “To win the bid we need the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and its main agency HIE to be 100% be­hind Unst. As Unst is the lo­ca­tion that in­dus­try wants, that should be straight­for­ward.

The re­opened RAF radar sta­tion at Saxa Vord pro­vides an added in­cen­tive, ac­cord­ing to the MSP as “no

“Un­stis­the best­lo­ca­tion for­satel­lite launch­esinUK”

other site in Scot­land can of­fer this ser­vice. So there are huge ad­van­tages to the Unst case.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Scep­tre re­port one of the great strengths of the Unst site is the abil­ity to of­fer “the max­i­mum pay­load mass to or­bit”.

Reg­u­la­tions state that space­craft must not fly over pop­u­lated ar­eas and north of the is­land pro­vides a clear route for “both SSO (Sun-Syn­chro­nous) and Po­lar or­bits.”

Other sites would ne­ces­si­tate so-called dog-leg turns away from re­stricted ar­eas which would re­strict the size of the pay­load.

Any de­vel­op­ment of the Saxa Vord site would be a boon to the Shet­land Is­lands fi­nances with the space in­dus­try worth £ 13.7bil­lion to the UK econ­omy an­nu­ally.

Among the other lo­ca­tions be­ing considered are Camp­bel­town, Glas­gow Prest­wick, Stornoway, Newquay, Corn­wall and Llanbedr in Wales.

PRIME SPOT: Saxa Vord in Shet­land has been named as one po­ten­tial site for launch­ing satel­lites BY SCOTT MACLENNAN

Frank Strang: long game

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