THE SHETLAND SPACE CENTRE

SSC plans to build and operate a satellite launch site and a ground station in Unst, Shetland, the UK’s most northerly island. It follows the identification in a major report for the UK Space Agency of Saxa Vord in Unst as the best location in the country for such a facility. SSC is already at work on a joint project with ArianeGroup to develop launch site proposals. Interest in our launch and ground station plans from the space industry, commercial and military, across the world is huge. We are working closely with the local community and planning authorities on next steps.
The Rationale

The Rationale

Saxa Vord in Unst, home to new RAF radar technology monitoring Northern Europe, is recognised across the space industry as the ideal location for launching small rockets transporting satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. The northerly latitude also makes it a perfect spot for a ground station to datalink to existing satellites passing overhead.

The Sites

The Sites

SSC has identified potential launch and ground station sites in north-east Unst as well as locations for ancillary support systems, and, with specialist support, is working towards securing operating licences and planning permissions for the necessary construction works.

The Future

The Future

Our aim is to have a fully functioning satellite launch facility in place by 2020, with logistical support allowing commercial and military clients to operate from Unst. Prior to that we plan to have a ground station up and running, allowing us to harvest satellite data and provide a range of services to companies within the space industry and beyond.

Saxa Vord, Unst

Originally Saxa Vord was built as a home-from-home for the families of the RAF personnel that manned the nearby radar station. Its composition and location ensured inclusion with the close-knit community of Unst. Closure of the radar station in the early 2000s led to depopulation and since then there has been a pressing need for an uplift in economic activity to ensure young people continue to live on the island.

Diversification has been aided by the transformation of Saxa Vord into a holiday resort and the creation of a gin and whisky distillery on the site. The Shetland Space Centre marks the next stage in the economic evolution of the UK’s most northerly island.

 

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Testimonials

SCEPTRE Report for the UK Space Agency

The site offering the maximum payload mass to orbit is Saxa Vord in the Shetlands, from where direct launch is possible to SSO and Polar orbits.