£100m spaceport set for blast off

Work on a £100m spaceport could start next month after receiving its long-awaited planning approval.

The SaxaVord Spaceport team today (Monday) welcomed the SIC’s decision as a “critical first step” in the UK’s ambitions to become a “global science superpower”.

Spaceport chief Frank Strang said blasting work had already begun, with full construction set to get under way in late March.

Some £43m will be spent in the next 18 months, rising to £100m over five years.

While acknowledging “timelines are tight” the team still hopes to achieve the first launch this year. 

It would be the first orbital launch from UK soil – and is hoped to establish the UK as the as the “European hub for commercial spaceflight”.

Mr Strang said his team would do everything they can to “deliver this historic mission for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK”.

He praised the Unst community for its “tremendous” support which he said had been crucial in keeping the project going.

“In many ways, it has been humbling for us all,” he said.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their patience and belief in what we are delivering.”

Once built, the spaceport will feature three launchpads at Lamba Ness in Unst, allowing up to 30 launches per year, supporting services including telecommunications, media, weather and defence.

It is expected to create hundreds of new jobs in Unst, Shetland and the rest of the UK, generating millions of pounds for the economy each year.

Mr Strang said the economic benefits were already being felt, with the involvement of established Shetland companies, such as Sandisons and Ocean Kinetics, as well as emerging organisations set up by folk in Unst to support the project. 

Today’s announcement comes after the SIC confirmed last week it was “minded to approve” the application.

While a major milestone in itself, the approval also marks the start of a 28-day window for Scottish ministers to review the application.

Provided they do not call it in, construction can begin.

On a more sombre note, Mr Strang noted the global connections of the space industry, including with Ukraine.

One of the spaceport’s launch partners, Skyroroa, has its roots in Ukraine.

“I would like to express our very best wishes and support to all their staff and families who are now caught up in the dreadful events in Ukraine following the senseless Russian invasion of their homeland,” Mr Strang said. 


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.