Blast off for £100m Scottish spaceport project

Blast off for £100m Scottish spaceport project

Councillors have approved construction of a £100m Spaceport in the far north of Scotland.

Shetland Islands Council granted consent for the project at the Lamba Ness peninsula in Unst.

Scottish ministers have 28 days to decide whether to call in the application by SaxaVord UK Spaceport. The project backer said it was in advanced talks with a contractor and could start building later this month.

The privately funded spaceport would consist of three launchpads allowing rockets with payloads of up to 1.5 tonnes to take-off vertically and head into orbit.

It is designed to support 30 launches a year to service the telecoms, media, weather and defence industries. The first orbital launch is planned for later this year.

SaxaVord Spaceport chief executive Frank Strang said: “We will spend upwards of £43m over the next 18 months, rising to £100m in the next five years.

“We have already started blasting and crushing stone and are seeking to clarify the conditions imposed on the development by Historic Environment Scotland, Shetland Islands Council and others, as soon as possible.”

He said: “We have been working on bringing the space economy to Shetland for five years, so it is fantastic that the economic benefits are already being felt. Our team will collectively do everything in its power to ensure we can deliver this historic mission for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK.”

SaxaVord this week agreed a deal with French rocket developer Venture Orbital Systems, which aims to launch a 15m-long rocket in 2024.

Plans to build a separate spaceport in the Scottish Highlands cleared a major legal hurdle in the Scottish Land Court last year.

Image credit: Rory Gillies / Shetland Flyer Aerial Media

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