The building of a spaceport in northern Scotland could start within the year, depending on the receipt of a development consent proposal from the council.

The Scottish spaceport, to be named Space Hub Sutherland, will be located at A’Mhoine on the Moine Peninsula in Sutherland. It would enable small spacecraft to be placed in near-Earth polar and solar synchronous orbits by vertical launchers.

At the beginning of August, the HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), a regional Scottish Executive for economic and local government affairs, underwrote a 75-year leasing agreement for the ground on which the facility is to be constructed.

The project, estimated to be worth £17 million, was granted £2.4 million in financing from the UK Space Agency in July 2018.

Roy Kirk, Space Hub Sutherland project manager at HIE stated:

“We expect to receive building approval at the beginning of 2020 and begin building shortly thereafter. If everything is successful, we expect to be able to start Sutherland launches by the beginning of 2020s.”

At the start of this year, HIE contracted the engineering firm NORR Consultants to assist in the development of installations at the Space Hub, such as a launch operations center and the assembly and integration complex.

Earlier, Lockheed Martin and the UK aeronautical and space enterprise Orbex had agreed to lift off from the Sutherland spaceport in the expectation of achieving as many as 10 lift-offs annually.

This is part of efforts to launch satellites into space from the Scottish Highlands. In July 2018, the UK Space Agency (UKSA) announced that it was backing proposals to develop a vertical launch site at The Moine, Sutherland.

The launch site is expected to create around 61 highly skilled jobs in Caithness and Sutherland. At a regional level, the local council estimate this figure will multiply to 250 jobs, with launch activities making Caithness and Sutherland the hub of a significant new space sector.

You can read more about the launch site here.

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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
4 months ago

And all seems to have gone quiet on Virgin Orbit moving to Cornwall. Probably for the best given their recent failures but it would’ve been nice to have more than one space launch site in the UK

WeeWill
WeeWill
4 months ago

Work still ongoing, just nothing newsworthy. It will actually be complimentary, as well as competition, to have vertical and horizontal launch; a big advantage for the U.K.

expat
expat
4 months ago

Scottish or UK space port based in Scotland?

Andy P
Andy P
4 months ago
Reply to  expat

Ha, nicely played Sir, lets get the ‘Scottish question’ debated again….

Over the the UKDJ ‘brain trust’……

WeeWill
WeeWill
4 months ago
Reply to  expat

Where else would we put it? The nature of the beast is you need a vast expanse of ocean and any near by land to be as sparsely populated as possible. On a relatively small, relatively densely populated island, your options are few. It also highlights the dichotomy of U.K. space launch – it has to be remote but the infrastructure to get anything there is terrible. The same applies to Newquay being used for horizontal launch, although remoteness isn’t *as big* a factor as the mothership takes the really dangerous bit a fair way away – But still pretty… Read more »

Darren hall
Darren hall
3 months ago
Reply to  WeeWill

Why not RAF Spade Adam…
On the boarders, where we tested our old rockets??
Very isolated…
As anyone who has been there will know.

As to infrastructure, links etc.

Look at old RAF Machrihanish, some of the best links in the area…
they even paid for bends in roads to be taken out!!
All for the sake of …!…
Not to mention that ruuuuunnnnnnnnwwwwaaayyy. (emphasise on length).

Two (Vertical and Horizontal) types in a small locality.

WeeWill
WeeWill
3 months ago
Reply to  Darren hall

Spadeadam is now a very busy range and, in space launch terms, not very remote at all (relative proximity of Tyne & Weir, Carlisle, and their respective airports). And while I realise infrastructure improvement has been carried out for the MOD, etc, in the past, dualling the entirety of the A9 and A836 (as an example) is an exponentially greater undertaking. In this respect Newquay is in a better situation but, conversely, it’ll be a long time (if ever) horizontal launch vehicles and their payloads reach the size of vertical launch vehicles so probably a lesser infrastructure need. Horizontal and… Read more »

DaveNBC
DaveNBC
3 months ago
Reply to  Darren hall

Indeed Machrihanish is ideally situated with all the pre-existing facilities you’d need for horizontal and vertical launch, regular air services from Glasgow, and the locals were previously used to a bit of noise and disruption. Incidentally, the bends were ironed out to take the wind turbines to the harbour or site.

Darren hall
Darren hall
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveNBC

I think you will find the bends were ironed out way before the turbines.

barry white
barry white
4 months ago
Reply to  expat

Well whats new
In Scotland it Scottish Gas
Go across the border and it British Gas and that includes Wales
I cant speak about NI as i dont know

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago
Reply to  expat

Give it a few years and we’ll have tartan painted rockets blasting off into space!!!

Mark B
Mark B
4 months ago
Reply to  expat

Perhaps it should be a mobile space port then it can go on tour to be fair to everyone

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
4 months ago

Momentum really seems to be building behind UK launch capabilities which is exciting to say the least. When I was just starting out on my career in aviation it was HOTOL that was the big hope. Lack of government backing meant that whithered and died on the vine. Now as my career is entering the final stages we finally get a pretty good chance of developing an effective, if niche, launch capability. Well at least the youngesters coming through today will have the chance of a UK based engineering career in launch vehicles and I truly hope they have a… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
4 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Reaction Engines still seem to be in the mix, CR. Puzzle is that these things seem to bumble along quietly for years in a news vacuum i.e. is there enthusiasm or isn’t there?
Bloodhound LSR is on the skids and inside another vacuum with the additional ‘plus’ that good ol’ Covid has as like as not added it to its growing ‘interred list’.
Fleet Solid Support is again in the news, though, with current mood music at least tuning up if not really playing a melody. We’ll see.

dan
dan
4 months ago

Looks like the mod didn’t like our remarks about Bransin’s rocket launch failure this week. Not sure why though….

dan
dan
4 months ago
Reply to  dan

Wrong article. My apologies.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
4 months ago

Utterly stupid decision given how, right now, Scotland is a politically unreliable partner in the UK. The lack of preparation to move Navy assets away from Scotland in the event of ‘yes’ vote in any future indyref is bad enough. A new spaceport would simply add to cost and hassle to move UK assets and would mean, at some point, the UK lose the ability to launch rockets as it takes time to look at alternate areas for the spaceport.

Jake Hayes
Jake Hayes
4 months ago

But scotland voted no, and despite it being close, the polls also show for consistent amount of time that it has not changed much. Fact is the Snp speak for themselves but not for all of Scotland. Secondly Scotland has a sparsely populated area so it is easier to locate a spaceport their for many variety of reasons.