SaxaVord Spaceport’s Historic License Marks UK’s Entry into Vertical Rocket Launches
In a significant leap for Britain’s space aspirations, the Shetland Islands have secured the UK’s inaugural license for vertical rocket launches, poised to propel the country’s space ambitions forward by 2024.
The Shetland Islands’ SaxaVord Spaceport, a former RAF base purchased by Frank and Debbie Strang, initially envisioned as an eco-tourism site, has received the historic license for vertical rocket launches in Western Europe. This milestone positions the UK at the forefront of spaceflight innovation.
SaxaVord Spaceport’s Milestone:
The government’s approval for the SaxaVord Spaceport’s vertical rocket launches on Unst, the northernmost British isle, marks a pivotal moment. August 2024 is set for the inaugural rocket take-offs, signifying a significant step towards elevating the UK’s standing in the global space economy.
Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport, expressed pride in the responsibility bestowed upon them, highlighting the immense opportunity for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK in advancing space exploration and technology.
Significance and Future Plans:
The spaceport is expected to accommodate up to 30 launches annually, deploying satellites and payloads into orbit. Rocket manufacturers, including Germany’s Hylmpulse and Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), and California-based Lockheed Martin/ABL Space Systems, anticipate utilizing the site.
Edinburgh-based Skyrora aims to become the first British company to initiate launches from the location, contributing to the burgeoning space endeavors.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s endorsement, based on safety and environmental criteria, solidifies the spaceport’s potential as a hub for global rocket launches.
Implications for the UK Space Industry:
Mark Harper, Transport Secretary, and industry experts anticipate significant economic growth in Shetland and the UK, propelling the nation to the forefront of spaceflight innovation. The UK space industry, already valued at £17.5 billion, is set for expansion, potentially creating employment opportunities across various sectors.
Unlike Cornwall Spaceport, limited to horizontal launches via aircraft, Shetland’s site allows unassisted vertical rocket launches. With three launch pads and a cost-effective infrastructure of under £30 million, the spaceport is positioned to revolutionize UK space exploration.
Original Article: Britain to join space race in 2024 with rockets taking off from the Shetlands
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