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Mon May 27 2024

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Construction set to start for £43m spaceport

1 Mar 22 Construction of the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport could begin this month following planning approval from Shetland Islands Council.

The planning approval provides Scottish ministers with a 28-day window to review the application by SaxaVord UK Spaceport. Should Scottish Ministers choose not to call the application in for review, or call it in and agree that the project should proceed, construction of the £43m spaceport can begin.

The privately-funded spaceport will consist of three launchpads at the Lamba Ness peninsula in Unst, allowing for the launch of small satellites into either polar or sun-synchronous, low-earth orbits. 

The aim is for there to be up to 30 launches per year for launch service providers (LSPs) supporting industries and services including telecommunications, media, weather and defence.

The developer said that timelines are tight to meet the target of delivering the first orbital launch from UK soil after the third quarter of this year. 

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SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang 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. To date, we have teamed up with established Shetland companies, such as Sandisons and Ocean Kinetics, as well as emerging local organisations, created by Unst residents who wish to support our exciting project.  

“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 HES, SIC and others as soon as possible.   

“Our team will collectively do everything in its power to ensure we can deliver this historic mission for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK.”

Strang added that the SaxaVord Spaceport team had received a tremendous amount of support from the people of Unst, and without that support would have struggled to maintain momentum. 

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