One giant leap for Scotland

Posted on 03 Aug 2018 and read 416 times
One giant leap for ScotlandThe UK Space Agency has selected Sutherland (on the north coast of Scotland) as the location for the first UK’s first vertical launch site for rockets designed to put satellites into orbit.

Initial funding of £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the site in Sutherland, which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies.

The intention is to grow the UK space economy “through regular, reliable and responsible access to space”. Two separate UK Space Agency grants (worth a combined £23.5 million) will go to Lockheed Martin — one to establish vertical launch operations at Sutherland using proven technology, and the other to develop an innovative new system in Reading for deploying small satellites.

Known as an ‘orbital manoeuvring vehicle’, this will be the upper stage of a Lockheed Martin rocket and will place up to six small satellites in separate orbits.

Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK country executive for space, said: “The UK Space Agency’s strategic vision for a world-class launch market will position the nation for a very bright future in space.

“Lockheed Martin will apply its 50 years of experience in small satellite engineering, launch services and ground operations, as well as a network of UK-based and international teammates, to deliver new technologies, new capabilities and new economic opportunities.”

A UK Space Agency grant of £5.5 million will also go to UK-based Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, with the support of British manufacturing operations and supply chains.

This orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, will deliver small satellites into Earth orbit, using a renewable fuel — bio-propane — that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to hydrocarbon fuels.

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected after a highly competitive and detailed process.

“Orbex is one of the very few private spaceflight companies with credible practical experience in the development of launch vehicles and rocket engines.

“With the support of this grant from the UK Space Agency, we will soon be launching small satellites into orbit from British soil and helping to transform the UK into an important hub for commercial space launch operations.”

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