Shetlands ‘ideal’ for satellite launch
Shetland has been identified as an “ideal location” for satellite launches in Britain.
A report commissioned by the UK Space Agency has led to the formation of a local company to drive what could potentially be a “major new sector” of the Shetland economy.
Unst-based Shetland Space Centre has already had expres- sions of interest from commercial firms and the military.
The firm was created after the report singled out a former Ministry of Defence aerial farm at Saxa Vord on the north of the island as the preferred site for satellite launches.
The Sceptre report, part funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, stated: “The site offering the maximum payload mass to orbit is Saxavord in the Shetlands from where direct launch is possible to both SSO [Sun-synchronous] and Polar orbits.”
Regulations dictate that spacecraft do not fly over “populated areas”. The north of Unst would give satellite launchers a clear, unobstructed route into orbit.
Shetland Space Centre director Frank Strang said there was “tremendous potential” for the islands to become part of a fast growing £13.7 billion sector that already supports more than 6,000 Scottish jobs.