Seeking views from Aviation & Non-Aviation Stakeholders on the Airspace Design Principles

Shetland Space Centre (SSC) is seeking views from Aviation & Non-Aviation Stakeholders on the Airspace Design Principles as part of the next stage of the airspace change around the proposed Lamba Ness rocket launch site.

As part of the ongoing development of a Spaceport on Unst, Shetland, SSC is undertaking an “airspace change” process with the Civil Aviation Authority, this is to ensure that the rockets and other air users are protected.

An online questionnaire is available till the 8th of May 2020 for members of the public to complete via this link: https://airspace-change.shetlandspacecentre.com/

 

Please note that this is separate from our planning application which will come later.

Statement on SSC and Leonne International

Shetland Space Centre has been the subject of adverse comment in some sections of the media within the last month. This relates to the investment in the project by Michael Haston through Leonne International. The Board of Shetland Space Centre wishes to make clear that the company has received and continues to receive funds from Leonne in full compliance with the legal agreement signed more than a month ago. Moreover, Shetland Space Centre has carried out due diligence checks and the Board is entirely satisfied that Leonne is a legitimate funder.

The only possible conclusion is that individuals with their own agenda are intent on smearing our project by resorting to innuendo and insinuation. They should know that while this activity is distressing and frustrating for the project team, particularly during a global medical and economic crisis, their attempts to discredit us will only encourage us to work harder to fulfil our aim of building a vertical launch site, thus bringing the space economy to Shetland, Scotland and the UK.

Frank Strang MBE

CEO

On behalf of the Board of Shetland Space Centre

A message from our CEO

As the country responds to the pandemic, and as our governments in Edinburgh and Westminster rally and put in Herculean shifts to ensure all that can be done is being done to alleviate the suffering, it is important that we in the space industry continue to look to the future and prepare for life after Covid-19.

If ever there was a time for a “new” industry to excite the nation and bring employment opportunities to both the current and next generation, it is now. By definition space is a fast moving, agile and exciting sector. We need to bring those attributes to the fore and ensure that the UK is ready to hit the ground running once the dark days are gone. Remember there are two sides to the moon, and we will come back into the sunlight just as Michael Collins did in 1969.

All of us, from the launch sites, north and south, the launch providers and the satellite manufacturers throughout the space ecosystem, must pull together to support the UK Space Agency and ensure we are ready for lift off next year.

We owe it to those who have been hardest hit by the outbreak and equally those who are giving so much to support those less fortunate. I have no doubts that all our colleagues in the industry feel the same as we do, and are continuing just like our SSC team to work day in day out to ensure we don’t miss a beat in our quest to deliver the new space economy.

Space is a truly international business and this dreadful virus has affected our clients, friends and colleagues from France, Germany, Ukraine, Canada, the USA, the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Italy and India as well as here in the UK. Judging from the Facebook comments and posts I read daily, no one is going to let Covid-19 get in the way of our collective progress. There will be challenges to us all over the next six months or so, but most of us are well used to battling through, and no matter how hard the fight it will not compare with the battle faced by those afflicted on a day to day basis.

The message is: “We in Shetland are not stopping in our quest to deliver success for both Shetland and the rest of the country, and will do our best to support all our friends and colleagues in the space family as we all strive to bring some hope and no little excitement to these dark times.” It’s not quite business as usual as we need to move faster to stay ahead of the virus, but I could not be prouder of our own team who have not missed a beat and continue to work incredibly hard on our project to deliver for not just Shetland, but the international community.

To quote Ron Garan (astronaut): “If we can adopt the same collaborative mindset and practices that got us to the Moon and back, and that built the International Space Station, we can alleviate poverty … and do much more.” Such as alleviating Covid-19!

Stay healthy and well

Frank

CEO SSC

Unst airfield set for new lease of life as space industry hub

Shetland Space Centre is to exercise its option to lease the Ordale Airfield at Baltasound in Unst as it gears up for spaceflight activity.

The regeneration of the site, which opened in 1968 and served fixed-wing and helicopter traffic for the North Sea oil and gas industry until 1996, is regarded as an important step in attracting the international space industry to the isles.

It is envisaged that the airfield, which is less than 5km from the proposed launch site at Lamba Ness, will be used firstly for fuel and equipment storage as well as housing small business incubators supporting spaceflight activity on the island.

The airfield was used in July 2019 for the successful test launch of a balloon by B2Space in conjunction with SSC.

SSC intends to refurbish the airfield lighting system and hangar in order that clients may use the 640m runway to fly in and out as required.

SSC CEO Frank Strang said: “Without doubt having an airfield with associated infrastructure close to the launch site is a huge benefit to the embryonic Shetland space industry, and is another reason along with its location why Shetland is seen as the optimal place for vertical launch activity in the UK.

“The airfield will not be as busy as it was in the early 1990s, but this will be the first step towards bringing in limited commercial traffic.”

 

 

Further views sought on airspace change

In accordance with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) process, Shetland Space Centre is seeking further views on a change to the status of the airspace around its proposed Lamba Ness rocket launch site.

A questionnaire, available from the SSC website or by post upon request, forms part of this stage of engagement and is designed to help SSC identify affected parties (stakeholders).

It is important that the views of stakeholders are considered at an early stage in the process, and therefore your responses to these questions are important to allow us to understand what our key areas of consideration should be for a successful airspace change process.

Due to the current public health situation we are happy to accept replies via our website; to access the online form, please click on the link below.

https://airspace-change.shetlandspacecentre.com/

Please save the file that includes your responses and attach to an email to the following address:

[email protected] 

Paper copies are available by emailing [email protected] and leaving your postal address.

Please ensure that your response is returned to us no later than 3rd April 2020.

 

 

Covid-19

Shetland Space Centre is continuing to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic, having adapted our working practices to protect staff and ultimately the general public.

The dates for the public exhibitions relating to our planning application, to be held at Saxa Vord Resort on 5th, 6th and 7th May, have not changed but will be kept under review. Stay healthy everyone.

Space centre receives initial £2 million investment boost

Shetland Space Centre’s (SSC) plan to build and operate a satellite launch site has been given a major boost by a £2,050,000 investment from Leonne International, the international private equity firm.

The cash injection, which gives Leonne a 20 per cent stake in the business, will be used for future growth of the company, such as the development of the launch site and ground station in Unst.

This was identified in the Sceptre Report, an independent report commissioned for the UK Space Agency, as the optimal location in the UK for launching small satellites into space, a rapidly growing sector of the international economy.

SSC’s integrated business model creates revenues from launch, ground and tourism. Shetland’s space economy should be seen as a unique and very valuable asset to the UK where it can support the work done by the other sector initiatives and clusters in the rapidly growing “New Space” economy.

SSC also has support from within the Unst and broader Shetland communities, as well as a proactive and supportive relationship with the local authority, Shetland Islands Council. Critically, the landowner and crofting community have recognised the benefits both locally and to Scotland and the UK and have agreed to lease the required land to the project and SSC does not anticipate any major environmental issues.

SSC intends to create an international exemplar by developing a green space centre and showcasing that space and its numerous applications are a ”force for good” as well as creating employment and attracting new business opportunities to Shetland in particular.

For the last two-and-a-half years SSC has been developing its plans and collaborating with space industry giants such as Lockheed Martin, Aecom and ArianeGroup and also working closely with legitimate industry newcomers such as Rocket Factory Augsburg and Skyrora, the Edinburgh-domiciled Scottish Launch Provider, Raptor Aerospace, B2Space and C6 as well as Scottish Enterprise, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities and the Technical University of Munich.

SSC has also partnered with Goonhilly and the Cornwall Space Centre, ensuring the UK makes the most of its geography by having a space footprint at both its northern and southern tips. SSC is also working very closely with Faroese Telecom as it seeks to build relationships around the Arctic economy.

Frank Strang, CEO of Shetland Space Centre, said: “We are delighted to have Leonne International as a partner in realising the benefits of space exploration for the UK, and for Shetland’s economy: bringing jobs, revitalising the economy, attracting visitors and establishing Shetland as a northern hub supporting vertical launch and ground station activity. Mike Haston and his team at Leonne International bring tremendous enthusiasm, drive and belief to the business which will turbo charge an already dynamic and fast moving project. Just as his grandfather Dougal, a thoughtful visionary and one of Scotland’s legendary rock climbers, pioneered Scottish winter climbing and conquered the world’s biggest and most dangerous mountains, I have no doubt that Mike will lead the way into this next frontier and help us conquer the new space economy for Britain.

“Importantly, the investment enables us to proceed with the first stages of gaining the necessary permissions and licences required to operate the facility and get on with building our launch site and ground station.

“Furthermore, the funding validates what we and, crucially, the wider space industry has been saying for several years now – that Shetland is absolutely the right location for kick-starting the UK’s entry into this rapidly growing market.”

Michael Haston, CEO, Leonne International, said: “We are always excited to partner with firms which exhibit ambition, innovation and excitement, and Shetland Space Centre exceeds this criteria with the plans they have in place for their satellite launch programme.

“With the help of the SSC, Shetland’s space economy is unique and will inevitably become a very valuable asset to the UK.”

 

 

SSC seeks views on change to airspace status around planned launch site

Shetland Space Centre is seeking views on a change to the status of the airspace around its proposed Lamba Ness rocket launch site.

In accordance with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules, before launches can take place an “airspace change” process must be undertaken, ensuring that rockets are protected from other air users.

An online questionnaire is available for stakeholders and members of the public to complete via this link: https://airspace-change.shetlandspacecentre.com/

Drop-in sessions will also be held in Lerwick on Thursday 19th December from 4pm-7pm in the Mareel foyer and in Unst on Wednesday 8th January from 3pm-6pm in the Saxa Vord main building reception. Forms will be made available for interested parties to fill in.

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “This is in important part of our preparations for rocket launches from Unst so I would ask anyone with a view on the change of airspace to go online or attend one of our drop-in sessions and complete the questionnaire.

“It is important to emphasise, however, that this separate from our planning application which will come later. Nor does it relate to safety, which will be regulated by government guidelines that are in development.”

Shetland Space Centre to partner with Raptor Aerospace for launch training and sub-orbital launch operations

Shetland Space Centre and Raptor Aerospace Ltd today announced a long-term strategic partnership that will allow both companies to make rapid progress in UK launch activities.

Raptor, based in Norfolk in the east of England, will be delivering training and simulation services to Shetland Space Centre to assist in getting the spaceport launch ready within months.

Raptor has also announced their selection of the Shetland site as their preferred location for all future UK launch activities, including regular sub-orbital payload carrying flights set to begin in 2020.

Ben Jarvis, CEO of Raptor Aerospace, said: “Having looked at all of the possible vertical spaceport sites in the UK it’s simply the right decision for our business to choose the one that is closest to being ready for launch activities to begin.

“The Shetland site already has the facilities and offers the safest clear downrange area for us, making it viable to start launching almost immediately.”

“Frank Strang and the team at SSC have been both welcoming and enthusiastic about what we can offer each other and we can see a hugely beneficial commercial partnership developing between us.”

Frank Strang, CEO of Shetland Space Centre, said: “We’re naturally delighted to be working with Ben and his go-ahead team and look forward to progressing developments in Unst as we capitalise on all the natural attributes that Shetland has for the launch of small satellites into space.”

Raptor Aerospace hope to set up a permanent launch facility at the Shetland site in early 2020 and begin high-altitude commercial payload launches within months.

 

 

Successful test launch of space research balloon

The test launch of a space research balloon from Unst in Shetland has been hailed as a major success.

B2Space now intends to establish a permanent base with Shetland Space Centre (SSC) on the island to work towards full-scale launches of their “rockoon” system.

This will use balloons to transport rockets into the upper atmosphere before they are launched into space. Using the technology will be significantly cheaper than sending rockets into orbit from the ground.

In the meantime, B2Space, which has the backing of the European Space Agency (ESA), will deploy balloons to conduct a series of tests of satellite components in near-space, in conditions similar to those in orbit.

Watch a short video of the launch here.

Valentin Canales and Victor Montero, co-founders of B2Space, said: “We are very pleased with how the test launch has gone.

“We have a large amount of data to analyse, but from what we know already we can confirm that we intend to set up a base here in Unst in preparation for future launches.

“Interest from ESA and the UK Space Agency is huge. We know the technology will work, and this launch was the first step, with many more to come.

“We are really grateful for the support and teamwork from the Shetland Space Centre, from the local supply chain and from the community. We were amazed and delighted by how many people came to watch the launch.”

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “The balloon launch has been a major success, proving that Unst is the best location for launching into space.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for the SSC team, working with our local partners such as Pure Energy and Ocean Kinetics, backed by Shetland Islands Council and HIE, to conduct a live operation and learn from it, which we have done.

“The support from external agencies such as Civil Aviation Authority, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland has also been excellent.”

Mr Hammond added: “The SSC team, local firms and the community has come together to make this happen – and this the model for going forward not only to more balloon launches but to a rocket launch site and ground station by 2020-21.”