SSC to collaborate with B2Space on stratospheric balloon launches

Shetland Space Centre has joined forces with B2Space, a Bristol-based firm that is developing a small satellite launcher centred on a stratospheric balloon.

The two companies have agreed to collaborate on a study into the feasibility of using Unst as a launch site for the innovative new system, which is known as rockoon.

B2Space Co-founder Valentin Canales, who visited Shetland for the space symposium in May, said: “The study will demonstrate the convenience of Shetland as a launch location for polar and sun-synchronous orbits, and will show the potential of Shetland for other launch operators.”

SSC Project Director Scott Hammond said: “We’re delighted to have teamed up with Valentin and his team and look forward to taking the next steps on developing what is potentially a major new sector of the Shetland economy.”

B2Space is already working with the Llanbedr Spaceport in Wales to develop a prototype of its launch system, which carries a small rocket into high altitude that then launches to deliver the small satellites into their required orbits.

The system will be tested and operated between Llanbedr and Shetland to meet the launch rates necessary for the business to operate successfully.

Space Centre and SIC join forces with Lockheed Martin

Shetland Space Centre and Shetland Islands Council are to join forces with one of the world’s biggest aerospace and security companies on the development of space-related activity in the islands.

They signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lockheed Martin today at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.

The two companies will now press ahead with work on the creation of a satellite tracking and communication centre in Unst.

The MoU was signed by SSC Project Director Scott Hammond, SIC Chief Executive Maggie Sandison and Patrick Wood, head of Lockheed Martin Space UK.

“This partnership with Lockheed Martin is a huge vote of confidence in the potential of Shetland to become a major hub for the space industry in the UK,” said Mr Hammond.

“We look forward to working with some of the finest experts in the world on space to turn our plans into reality.”

He added: “The support for proposed space activity in Sutherland is good news, and shows the strength of the sector in Scotland. We are continuing with our launch site plans and this work is attracting a great deal of interest from a number of launch providers.”

Mrs Sandison said: “It’s clear that Shetland has geographical and physical advantages for the development of both launch and tracking facilities, backed up by supply chain and logistical knowledge and expertise that will benefit the space industry.

“On behalf of the SIC, I’m pleased to have signed this agreement with SSC and Lockheed Martin and we look forward to making progress for the benefit of Unst and the wider Shetland community.”

Mr Wood said: “As the UK launches into the next space age, the Shetland Space Centre is an ideal location for vital ground stations as well as space situational awareness technology.

“Lockheed Martin is committed to supporting the UK’s goal of expanding its national space industry, and we are excited to work with the dedicated team in Shetland. This effort is a strong complement to our work on the UK Spaceflight Programme, where we will launch the first orbital rocket from UK soil. The future of space across the UK is very bright.”

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.