Shet­lands ‘ideal’ for satel­lite launch

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By GRAEME MUR­RAY

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.

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