Scotland’s Historic Milestone: Sutherland Spaceport Propels UK into the Space Age

Scotland’s Historic Milestone: Sutherland Spaceport Propels UK into the Space Age

Scotland is about to enter a new era of space exploration with its first-ever vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland.

This groundbreaking, carbon-neutral project will soon be firing rockets into the sky, with the fantastic folks at Orbex leading the way thanks to a whopping £14.6 million investment.

Orbex, a Forres-based rocket and launch services company, plans to use Sutherland Spaceport (formerly Space Hub Sutherland) to send up to 12 orbital rockets yearly. These launches will deploy satellites into Earth’s orbit, bringing cutting-edge technologies and communications to our increasingly connected world.

Artists impression of Orbex Prime launch from Sutherland Spaceport. Courtesy of Orbex

The official construction kick-off event brought together everyone who’s anyone in the space business, including Scottish Government Minister Richard Lochhead, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency Ian Annett, and many other bigwigs. The cherry on top: Sutherland Spaceport will be the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceport in construction and operation.

In building the spaceport, any peat lifted will be reused to repair degraded peatland areas. But it’s not just about the environment – the spaceport will become an economic powerhouse, creating 250 jobs in the Highlands and Islands over the coming years.

It’s predicted to generate nearly £1 billion in gross value added for the local economy over the next 30 years.

To make this all possible, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is chipping in £3 million and funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Government, and the UK Space Agency. Talk about a cosmic collaboration!

Groundbreaking see Word doc for names and titles
From left to right: Richard Lochhead (Minister for Small Business, Innovation & Trade, Scottish Government), Kristian von Bengtson (Chief Development Officer & Interim CEO, Orbex), Dorothy Pritchard (Chair, Melness Crofters’ Estate), Bart Markus (Chairman, Orbex), Ian Annett (Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency), and David Oxley (Director of Strategic Projects, Highlands & Islands Enterprise) unite for groundbreaking.

Once completed, Orbex will take the reins, directing construction and managing the facility on the community-owned Melness Crofters Estate. This partnership is expected to bring a surge of private investment, job creation, and other fantastic economic benefits to the local community.

The spaceport’s construction and operations will be handled by Jacobs, a world-renowned professional and technical services company who has worked with NASA on various high-profile Space Centers and spaceflight programs.

On top of construction jobs, Orbex will hire skilled locals for facilities management, security, administration, finance, and more.

In 2022, Orbex unveiled its impressive Prime rocket – Europe’s first full orbital micro-launcher. At 19 meters long, this two-stage rocket is designed to transport small satellites weighing up to 180kg into Low Earth Orbit. It is powered by renewable bio-fuel, Futuria Liquid Gas, which reduces carbon emissions by 96% compared to traditional fossil fuel-based rockets.

Orbex has signed launch contracts with seven customers and raised an additional £40.4 million in funding. The company is all set to focus on long-term growth beyond the first launch.

As construction gets underway and testing ramps up, Orbex is hunting for new team members to join its Forres headquarters.

With the construction of Sutherland Spaceport now in motion, the UK is taking a giant leap forward in the global space race. Not only will this project create jobs and boost the economy, but it’s also setting a new standard for sustainable spaceflight – proving that business can be a force for good.

  • UK’s first-ever vertical launch spaceport, Sutherland Spaceport, is being constructed in Scotland.
  • Orbex, a rocket and launch services company, will lead the project, launching up to 12 orbital rockets annually.
  • The spaceport aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceport, using sustainable practices in construction and operation.
  • Construction will contribute to environmental conservation by reusing peat lifted during the process.
  • The project will create 250 new jobs and generate £1 billion for the local economy over the next 30 years.
  • Funding comes from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government, and UK Space Agency.
  • Orbex will manage the facility and partner with Jacobs, a professional services company with experience in space projects.
  • Orbex’s Prime rocket, powered by renewable bio-fuel, is designed to transport small satellites into Low Earth Orbit.
  • Orbex has secured launch contracts and raised additional funding, focusing on long-term growth.
  • Career opportunities will be available in Orbex’s Forres headquarters as the spaceport construction progresses.
  • Sutherland Spaceport represents a significant step for the UK in the global space race, boosting the economy and promoting sustainability.

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