Science

Brexit Britain handed major victory as UK spaceport picked for historic satellite launch

Representatives from the company’s UK and US branches met in Scotland on Monday to discuss their prospects for Britain’s bright future. Lockheed Martin has unveiled plans for the launch of a small satellite from the proposed SaxaVord Spaceport in the Shetlands, with the mission presently penned in for next year. Company officials met with the Shetland Islands Council and local community leaders to share the latest developments in the programme.

The meetings also gave Lockheed Martin an opportunity to gauge public opinion about this historic mission.

UK Pathfinder Launch will mark the first-ever vertical satellite launch from UK soil, as well as northern Europe’s first launch of this kind.

The mission will also mark the first commercial launch of the US-based ABL Systems’ new RS-1 rocket.

Dr Scott Ridgers, programme execution director at Lockheed Martin Space, said: “We’re really excited to be here with the SaxaVord spaceport team and meet with the local community in Unst and the Shetland Islands Council, we progress our plans to hold the UK’s first vertical launch in 2022.”

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Once operational, the SaxaVord spaceport on the isle of Unst is expected to create 140 jobs locally, with an additional 70 jobs across the Shetlands.

Unst is the northernmost of Britain’s inhabited islands and has been identified as the perfect location for Lockheed Martin’s UK-based operations.

Last year the UK Government approved the .

The move was welcomed by Science Minister Amanda Solloway, who said at the time: “We want the UK to be the best place in Europe to launch satellites, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs.

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord UK Spaceport, said: “We have had an excellent few days of engagement with the Lockheed Martin team as we combine forces to deliver the UK Pathfinder launch in 2022.”

He added: “They have affirmed to ourselves and the Unst and Shetland community their determination to succeed with this mission.

“We look forward to working closely with them in the year ahead.”

Lockheed Martin has operated in the UK for nearly 80 years now, but the latest developments are helping push Britain towards a new era of securing commercial and national space interests.

In October last year, the Government has said plans to build a Shetland Space Centre (SSC) will create more than 600 jobs by 2024.

Ms Solway said of the plans: “This Government is committed to backing our growing space sector, developing a comprehensive space strategy and supporting transformative technologies that will benefit people and businesses across the country.”

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation said: “This is an extremely exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is situated at the very forefront of this.

“The transfer of Lockheed Martin’s UK pathfinder satellite launch to Shetland Space Centre will enhance Scotland’s existing vertical launch capability and enable us to target a wider market base through a complementary offer across multiple spaceports.”


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