New board of directors to take SSC to next level

A high-powered board of directors has been appointed by the company behind plans to bring the space industry to Shetland. 

Chairman of Shetland Space Centre will be Chris Phillips, who is non-executive chairman of Hadleigh Waymoth, an independent advisory and fund management business, while the former government minister Brian Wilson will be vice-chair.

The original team behind SSC, Frank Strang, Debbie Strang, Scott Hammond and Bill Gibb, will also be on the board. 

Non-executive directors will be Todd Ruppert, founder and CEO of Ruppert International, who has 40 years’ experience in financial services, and Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland. 

SSC has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Lockheed Martin and Shetland Islands Council and further agreements with other major players in the space industry are in the pipeline. 

The aim is to develop an all-encompassing space centre in Unst that can launch satellites into space in small rockets and capture data from existing satellites. 

Mr Strang said: “This is a major step forward in the evolution of Shetland Space Centre and with the wealth of experience in a wide range of fields on this board we are sending a strong signal of positive intent about building a brand new industry in Shetland.”

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.

 

SSC to feature at Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Shetland Space Centre has been invited to take part in this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in conjunction with the Royal Air Force and Edinburgh-based launch provider Skyrora.

The company’s logo will be emblazoned on a life-size model rocket that is being built by the Skyrora team and will be on display throughout the Tattoo.

And members of the SSC team will be attending the annual event to speak about their plans for a small satellite rocket launch site and data download centre in Unst, Shetland’s and the UK’s most northerly island.

The invite came from the RAF, which is celebrating its 100thanniversary this year and the force’s history will feature prominently at the Tattoo.

SSC Director Scott Hammond said: “We are naturally very pleased to have been asked to have a presence at this year’s Tattoo along with the RAF and Skyrora.”

Mr Hammond, a former RAF fighter pilot himself, added: “We are delighted in our own small way to be able to contribute to the celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF.”

 

Natural advantages put Unst at forefront of satellite launch race

Shetland’s unrivalled natural advantages for delivering small satellites into space were spelled out today as the team behind the proposed launch site on the islands stepped up the campaign to win support for their plans.

Shetland Space Centre (SSC) bosses are adamant that their site in Unst is the prime location in the UK because:

  • It is the farthest north, and for small satellite market operators who need to deliver their devices into Polar and Sun-Synchronous orbits the farther north the better;
  • There are no obstacles to direct launch to these orbits, such as population centres, including towns and oil & gas installations, which safety rules prohibit the overflight of;
  • Airspace around Unst is clear, with no major trans-Atlantic routes or military restrictions, e.g. for bombing practice;
  • Operators in the industry, both commercial and public sector, have beaten a path to the SSC door and are very keen to work with the company.

SSC Director Scott Hammond said: “We want to make as many people as possible aware of the abundantly clear natural advantages that Unst has in terms of physics and geography.

“But is important to highlight the fact that it is not just us who are saying this – from government to academia to the space industry, there is a strong grasp of the situation.

“Firstly, Unst was identified in a report commissioned by the UK Space Agency as the preferred site for small satellite launches.”

This, the SCEPTRE report, part-authored by HIE, states: “Commercial launch is driven by two questions: which orbits are accessible, and what payload mass can be delivered to those orbits at an attractive price? The site offering the maximum payload mass to orbit is Saxa Vord in the Shetlands [sic], from where direct launch is possible to both SSO [Sun-Synchronous] and Polar orbits.”

By contrast, direct routes into these orbits from other sites under discussion would go directly over oil & gas installations or the Faroe Islands. The alternative, to carry out dog-leg turns, would require more robust, more expensive rockets and restrict payload size.

Mr Hammond, a former RAF fighter pilot, added: “This is before you look at the issues elsewhere with airspace. The re-routing of trans-Atlantic flights would be expensive for airlines and environmentally damaging due to the extra fuel burn required.

“And military exercises around the north of Scotland would significantly cut down the number of potential launch days for a site there.”

SSC Founder and Director Frank Strang said: “Our natural advantages are obvious and are right there for everyone to see.

“Of course, Shetland has many other attributes as well, including formidable logistics and supply chain expertise developed over almost 50 years as host to the oil and gas industry, and we will be highlighting these strengths in the weeks and months ahead.”

 

Major event to showcase Shetland to international space industry

Shetland is to showcase itself to the international space industry at a four-day event in the isles next month.

Championed by Shetland Islands Council, HIE Shetland and the Shetland Space Centre, the gathering of key industry players from 28th-31stMay is designed to demonstrate what Shetland has to offer in a very topical and fast-moving sector.

Attendance at the inaugural Shetland Space Week is by invitation only, with guests from both the public and private sectors from the UK, North America and Europe.

The space industry was worth £2.5 billion to the Scottish economy in 2017, and with a recent UK Act of Parliament permitting the UK Space Agency to licence launch sites, there is already a great deal of interest from national and international space companies in the planned Shetland Space Centre site in Unst.

Head of HIE Shetland Rachel Hunter said: “This has the potential to be very exciting for local businesses, and we will be inviting them to a ‘meet the buyer’ event, where they can highlight their capabilities, honed and developed over the decades supporting oil and gas, aquaculture and renewables.

“Another aim of the event is to encourage both upstream and downstream activity, including satellite launch and tracking, teleporting and datalinking, and hopefully manufacturing and training.”

Director of the Shetland Space Centre Frank Strang said: “The Shetland Space Centre team believes strongly that the sophisticated and experienced supply chain on-island, allied to its geography and infrastructure, will ultimately ensure that Shetland plays a pivotal role in the future growth of the UK’s and Scotland’s space industry.

“We are really looking forward to hosting a wide range of industry representatives and showing them what Shetland has to offer.”