Spaceflight Insider

UK’s first spaceport could launch 2,000 satellites by 2030

Artist's impression of a rocket lifting off from the Sutherland spaceport.

Artist’s impression of a rocket lifting off from the Sutherland spaceport. Image Credit: UK Space Agency/Orbex

The British government has revealed an ambitious plan to launch around 2,000 satellites by 2030 from its future spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland. The new agenda envisions about four satellite launches a week from the new site.

The decision to build the spaceport within the Melness Crofting Estate, on the A’ Mhòine peninsula in the Sutherland county in North Scotland was announced in mid July. The UK Space Agency’s first site dedicated to vertical launches of small satellites is planned to be completed by 2020.

New figures published by the UK Space Agency show that the new spaceport could see launches of even 2,000 satellites between 2021 and 2030. This corresponds to approximately four spacecraft lifting off every week.

The site was visited on August 9 by UK’s Business Secretary Greg Clark. He noted that the potential of a busy launch manifest was partly thanks due to the UK’s location, planned regulatory framework and private sector strategy. Britain has a competitive advantage to compete for a substantial share of the launch service provider market.

Scotland is described by the UK Space Agency as the best place in the UK to reach in-demand Sun-synchronous and polar orbits with vertically launched rockets. Sutherland overcame rival bids from a number of other coastal locations throughout the country.

During his visit, Clark noted how important the Sutherland spaceport could be for the British space industry.

“From our market leadership in small satellite construction to our world leading universities Scotland and the UK comes from a position of strength in the global space sector which will be turbo boosted by the first new spaceport and our Industrial Strategy,” he said.

Clark added how much the future spaceport would be also beneficial for the local community. He estimated that it could bring in as many as 400 jobs to the local Scottish economy.

“However, I want to make sure that this giant leap for the UK will also deliver on the ground, that’s why I am here today to discuss benefits in local jobs, uplifting tourism and businesses, helping to bring prosperity to all,” Clark said.

According to the UK Space Agency, there would be a mix of new jobs as a result of activities at the spaceport, inward investment, as well as supply chain opportunities.

The Sutherland spaceport will be developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). It is estimated to cost around £17.3 million ($22.1 million), out of which £2.5 million ($3.2 million) was given to HIE to construct the launch site. The UK Space Agency announced that Lockheed Martin and Orbex have been selected to develop launch systems that will operate from a vertical launch complex at the spaceport.

 

 

 

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Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

Reader Comments

“Could” is such a useful word. IT “could” cure cancer. It “could” see several members of genus Sus take to the skies too!

Joking aside, do they know which launch vehicle(s) or class(es) they plan to support? Are they banking on a boom in demand for lightweight launch services?

Madelaine Kaiser

2,000 more satellites? Oh great, more space junk. I hope at least one of those launches will be a space vacuum cleaner to sweep up all the old junk already crowding near earth space.

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