‘Great news for Shetland’ as SaxaVord signs new launch partnership

SaxaVord Spaceport has signed another partnership which is hoped to achieve rocket launches next year.

The agreement with Californian launch vehicle company Astra has been announced today (Tuesday) as “great news for Shetland”.

Astra, which states its mission as being to “improve life on Earth from space”, currently provides satellite launch services from  Kodiak in Alaska and Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The partnership with SaxaVord is hoped to “accelerate access to space” for UK customers.

SaxaVord’s business development director Robin Huber said Astra was an “agile, fast-moving company on pace to establish a successful track record”.

“Their mission to improve life on Earth from space is closely aligned with our own values, and we believe that this exciting new relationship will develop into a strong, lasting partnership,” he added.

Scottish business minister Ivan McKee said the announcement was “great news for Shetland” and another step towards bringing launch capability to Scotland.

He said it would support the government’s strategy to support a “nation of entrepreneurs and innovators” in sectors such as space.

Astra vice president Matt Ganser added: “We are excited to work with this partner to open another spaceport from which we would hope to meet the growing demand for dedicated launch out of the UK.”

The UK Space Agency’s director of commercial space Matt Archer said the partnership showed the international space community had a “strong interest” in the UK.

“By attracting global partners and developing a home-grown launch industry, we can cater for the diverse needs of small satellite manufacturers and operators, while benefitting people and businesses across the UK,” he said. 

“It is fantastic to welcome Astra into the UK’s thriving launch community.” 

The announcement follows the news in March that SaxaVord had been given the green light to start work on the £100m venture.

It is hoped to achieve the first vertical satellite launch from UK soil later this year through Lockheed Martin’s Pathfinder mission.


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