Scotland’s Space Industry Takes Off with Construction of Sutherland Spaceport

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Sutherland Spaceport

Summary:

  • The project has been in the works for years, but planning permission was only secured in 2021, and now, construction is well underway.
  • Construction work at the site is expected to take around two years, with the spaceport set to become operational in the early 2020s.
  • The development of Sutherland Spaceport is just one part of Scotland’s growing space industry.
  • The Scottish National Investment Bank has made £20m available for investment in space-related projects, while the government’s Space Sector Action Plan aims to grow the industry to be worth £4bn by 2030.Scotland’s space industry is also creating opportunities for young people, with initiatives such as the Scottish Space School offering school students the chance to learn about space science and engineering from industry experts.
  • Looking to the StarsThe development of Sutherland Spaceport is an exciting step forward for Scotland’s space industry, offering the potential for scientific discovery, technological advancement, and job creation.

Sutherland Spaceport: Scotland’s Gateway to the Stars

Scotland is taking its place in the space race with the construction of Sutherland Spaceport, set to be the country’s first commercial spaceport. The project has been in the works for years, but planning permission was only secured in 2021, and now, construction is well underway.

The spaceport, formerly known as Space Hub Sutherland, is being developed by UK-based launch services provider Orbex, who have been testing their prototype 19m (62ft) Prime rocket at a facility in Kinloss, Moray. Funding for the project includes £9m from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish government, £2m from the UK Space Agency, and £3m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Orbex has contracted civil engineering giant Jacobs to construct the spaceport, which is being built on a large area of peatbog on the Moine Peninsula. The site was chosen for its remote location, which will allow rockets to be launched safely over the sea without endangering populated areas.

Construction work at the site is expected to take around two years, with the spaceport set to become operational in the early 2020s. The facility will be capable of launching small satellites into orbit, with potential uses ranging from monitoring climate change to providing high-speed internet to remote areas.

Creating Jobs While Protecting the Environment

In addition to its potential scientific and technological benefits, the spaceport is also being hailed as a job creator for the region. The decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear complex, near Thurso, has left a significant gap in employment opportunities in the area, and the Sutherland Spaceport is seen as a key way of filling that gap.

But the project is not just about creating jobs – it is also being designed with sustainability in mind. Orbex has pledged to minimise the impact of the spaceport on the local environment, with soil removed during construction being used to help restore areas of degraded peatland.

The construction of Sutherland Spaceport is a major milestone for Scotland’s space industry, which is also developing projects on Unit in Shetland and the Western Isles. With the UK government setting ambitious targets for the growth of the country’s space sector, it is clear that Sutherland Spaceport is just the beginning of Scotland’s journey to the stars.

Scotland’s Growing Space Industry

The development of Sutherland Spaceport is just one part of Scotland’s growing space industry. With its favourable geography, Scotland is an ideal location for space-related activities, and the country is quickly establishing itself as a major player in the field.

In addition to the spaceports being developed in Sutherland, Shetland and the Western Isles, Scotland is home to a number of other space-related companies and organisations. These include the likes of Skyrora, a rocket launch company that has successfully tested its rockets in Scotland, and the University of Edinburgh’s Space Technology Centre, which conducts research into space exploration and satellite technology.

The Scottish government has recognised the potential of the space sector for the country’s economy, and has set ambitious targets for its growth. The Scottish National Investment Bank has made £20m available for investment in space-related projects, while the government’s Space Sector Action Plan aims to grow the industry to be worth £4bn by 2030.

Scotland’s space industry is also creating opportunities for young people, with initiatives such as the Scottish Space School offering school students the chance to learn about space science and engineering from industry experts.

Looking to the Stars

The development of Sutherland Spaceport is an exciting step forward for Scotland’s space industry, offering the potential for scientific discovery, technological advancement, and job creation. But it also serves as a reminder of the importance of looking to the stars, of pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and of investing in the future.

As Orbex CEO Kristian von Bengtson says, “With the construction of Sutherland Spaceport underway, this is an important piece of the puzzle that will make the UK a modern space nation. Just as importantly, we’re hopefully also setting the tone for how business can be a force for good, creating jobs and opportunities while minimising the impact upon the environment.”

As the spaceport takes shape on the rugged landscape of the Moine Peninsula, Scotland is looking to the stars with optimism and ambition, ready to play its part in shaping the future of space exploration and discovery.

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