Go-ahead for Space Hub Sutherland Starts Countdown to Launch of Orbex Prime from Scotland

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)
  • Sutherland spaceport granted planning permission
  • Orbex confirms six launch contracts
  • Significant steps on launch system testing
  • New jobs in Moray and Highlands regions

FORRES, UK, 26 June 2020 (Orbex PR) – The first orbital spaceflight from the United Kingdom has come a step closer following the Highland Council’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex, the UK-based space launch company, has confirmed that Orbex Prime will be the first vertical launch vehicle to fly into orbit from the Space Hub, which will be constructed near Melness on the northern coast of Scotland. Orbex today confirmed the company has already signed six launch contracts.

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Planning Approval Obtained for Sutherland Spaceport

Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee today [Friday 26 June 2020] approved plans by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to build a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland.

Council approval means that small commercial satellites and launch vehicles designed and manufactured in Scotland could be heading into orbit from a Scottish spaceport within the next few years.

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New US-UK Agreement Boosts UK’s Spaceport Plans

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK and US governments have signed a new agreement paving the way for US companies to operate from UK spaceports and export space launch technology.

UK Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, Christopher Ford, signed the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement, which will enable U.S. companies to participate in space launches from the United Kingdom, on Tuesday 16 June 2020.

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Shetland Space Centre Receives Initial £2 Million Investment Boost

HAROLDSWICK, Scotland — Shetland Space Centre’s (SSC) plan to build and operate a satellite launch site has been given a major boost by a £2,050,000 [$2.65 million] investment from Leonne International, the international private equity firm.

The cash injection, which gives Leonne a 20 per cent stake in the business, will be used for future growth of the company, such as the development of the launch site and ground station in Unst.

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Plans Submitted for Satellite Launch Site in Sutherland

Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — The latest generation of small communications satellites could be launched into Earth orbit from the northern Highlands of Scotland within the next two years. 

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has submitted a planning application for a vertical launch site, Space Hub Sutherland, that it plans to construct on the A’ Mhoine peninsula, Melness, near Tongue.

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Camden County Alters FAA Application for Spaceport

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

The FAA has delayed the release of the final environmental impact statement on the proposed Spaceport Camden in Georgia after Camden County amended its application last week. The release had been scheduled for Monday. Dec. 16.

“On Dec. 14, 2019, Camden County notified the FAA that it was amending its launch site operator license application,” a FAA spokesperson said. “This amendment requires the FAA to conduct new analyses to address the fundamental changes to the application, and the FAA has agreed to toll its review of Camden’s license application per Camden County’s request.”

The original application requested approval to conduct orbital and suborbital vertical launches and landings of medium and large rockets.

“Launch operations would include preparatory activities to ready and test launch vehicles and systems, including up to 12 vertical launches and up to 12 associated launch vehicle first-stage landings per year,” the spokesperson said.

“This amendment removes the request for a medium-to-large rocket with return to a small rocket with no return,” she added.

Reaction Engines to Support Research into UK Spaceport Feasibility

Campbeltown Airport

ABINGDON, England (Reaction Engines PR) — At the UK Space Conference, Science Minister Chris Skidmore and UK Space Agency confirmed a further £1.3 million towards developing spaceport plans in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the government’s spaceflight programme, LaunchUK.

The funding will be shared between three sites around the country and Reaction Engines will play a key role supporting the assessment undertaken by the owners of Machrihanish Airbase company behind one of these sites; the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC).

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Public Invited to Share Views on Scottish Satellite Launch Site Proposals

Space Hub Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which is backing the £17.3m project to design and build Space Hub Sutherland, has today (Wednesday 4 September) lodged a proposal of application notice with the Highland Council.

The notice effectively triggers the start of a process that will lead to a formal application for planning consent being submitted to the local authority at the end of December. 

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Skykraft, Equatorial Launch Australia Sign Letter of Intent for Strategic Partnership

Letter of Strategic Intent

Skykraft Pty Ltd and Equatorial Launch Australia Pty Ltd (ELA) agree to develop a strategic relationship that leverages the strengths of both companies. Those being, Skykraft as a designer and manufacturer of small satellite (SmallSAT) constellations for a broad range of space-based services, and ELA as the operator of Australia’s first commercial spaceport, located near Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.

The combination of Skykraft’s rapid constellation design and manufacture capability, plus ELA’s ability to tailor the launch options through their established spaceport and access to a wide selection of launch vehicles, provides Australia and the broader space community with an end-to-end solution for rapid, flexible and responsive space access.

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Orbex CEO Praises Deal for Scottish Launch Site

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) — Space Hub Sutherland gets the go-ahead from locals after Melness Crofters Estate (MCE) and Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) signed a 75-year lease for the land earmarked for the development.

Below is a reaction from Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, the UK-based spaceflight company chosen to launch from the spaceport:

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex

“We welcome this very positive step forward.  Orbex’s interactions with the local community in Tongue, Talmine and Melness have been overwhelmingly positive and we’re pleased that this strong, long term agreement is now in place. 

“We look forward to working closely with the local community in the years to come, and we expect to have many locals working directly on the space launch programme as colleagues, ultimately helping the UK’s National Space Programme to begin launching satellites into space. That launch capability will be a first in continental Europe, and will offer a host of benefits, enabling new markets and enlarging the UK’s share of the global space economy.”

Lease Option Agreed for Space Hub Sutherland

Artist’s impression of a UK spaceport. (Credit: Perfect Circle PV)

INVERNESS, Scotland (Highlands and Islands Enterprise PR) — The owners of land earmarked for the Space Hub Sutherland development on the Moine Peninsula have agreed a lease option with developer, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Representatives of Melness Crofters Estate (MCE) and HIE signed the agreement yesterday (Wednesday 31 July). It secures the option for HIE to lease the land once planning consent for the project has been granted.

HIE is leading the development, with a £2.5m grant from the UK Space Agency (UKSA), which is also funding two launch companies that plan to use the facility.

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FAA Accepts Camden County Georgia’s Launch Site Operators License Application

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

WOODBINE, Ga. (Spaceport Camden PR)–The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has notified Camden County, Georgia that it has completed an initial review of the Spaceport Camden Launch Site Operator License application and found it to be complete enough to accept and begin the 180-day review process. According to the FAA it “anticipate[s] making a license determination, in accordance with 14 CFR § 413.15, on or before December 16, 2019.”

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ESA’s Expertise to Support Portugal’s Launch Program

Azores from space

PARIS (ESA PR) — Portugal is developing the infrastructure for a national spaceport on one of the islands of the Azores archipelago, Santa Maria, a European launch and landing location for small satellites.

As an ESA Member State, Portugal has requested ESA’s tailored expertise and technical assistance in an agreement signed on 21 June by ESA Director General Jan Wörner and Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education.
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Scotland’s Western Isles Seeks Spaceport

Artist’s impression of Spaceport 1 north view. (Credit: Western Isles Council)

SCOLPAIG, Scotland (Western Isles Council PR) — North Uist is set to enter the space age as a project to create the UK’s first ever vertical launch commercial space port is unveiled today.

The consortium behind the Spaceport 1 project, which includes major players in the UK and international space sector and is led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), is proposing to build a new Spaceport at Scolpaig on the north-west coast of North Uist.

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Nova Scotia Approves Spaceport with Conditions

Cyclone 4M

The CBC reports that the Nova Scotia Environmental Department has given an approval with conditions for the construction of a spaceport where Ukrainian Cylcone 4M launch vehicles would operate.

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said he was satisfied any significant environmental effects of the Maritime Launch Services (MLS) project could be mitigated with compliance to the department’s conditions.

“I think we’ve made the right decision on ensuring that all the environmental impacts and the safety of the people in the area have been looked at and addressed in the terms of conditions of this approval,” said Wilson.

“Our staff did a very good job in engaging consultants who were understanding of this type of activity.”

[….]

Concerns about hydrazines, chemicals that will be used as rocket propellant, were among the main issues raised by the department.

Among the conditions, MLS will be required to submit information on expected air emissions of pollutants during regular operations and worst-case scenarios, including the maximum distance downwind that would need to be evacuated.