Transfer of Lockheed Martin UKVL Pathfinder Programme to Unst

Shetland Space Centre today welcomed the announcement from the UK Space Agency that Lockheed Martin is transferring its satellite launch operations to Unst, creating hundreds of jobs.

UKSA said that the move from Sutherland followed a thorough process of due diligence and the project would deliver long-term value and help establish a sustainable, commercial launch market as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme – LaunchUK.

Shetland Space Centre anticipates that by 2024, the spaceport site could support a total of 605 jobs in Scotland including 140 locally and 210 across the wider Shetland region. A further 150 jobs will also be created through wider manufacturing and support services.

Lockheed Martin is in discussions with a preferred partner to provide launch services for its UK Pathfinder Launch, which would take place from Shetland Space Centre.

Frank Strang, CEO of SSC, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Nik Smith and the Lockheed Martin team to Unst as we develop Shetland Space Centre.

“The UK is in a space race with other countries in Europe and beyond, such as Norway, Sweden and New Zealand, to supply payload space in a rapidly growing international market, and we intend to exploit our favourable geographical position to meet this demand.

“The benefits for Shetland, Scotland and the UK of Pathfinder and the additional launch projects that we are actively working on, in terms of skilled jobs, are evident.

“As well as launch, we aim to offer a full range of services, including telemetry, tracking and navigation, space situational awareness and data download and storage.

“We look forward to deepening our good relationship with Lockheed in the months and years ahead.

“This is a significant moment, and we intend to succeed in this new space race. The sky is no longer the limit.”

UK Government science minister Amanda Solloway said: “We want the UK to be the best place in Europe to launch satellites, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs.

The potential to have multiple spaceports in Scotland demonstrates the scale of our ambition, and I want to support industry by pressing ahead with our plans during this challenging time.

“This government is committed to backing our growing space sector, developing a comprehensive space strategy and supporting transformative technologies that will benefit people and businesses across the country.”

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government minister for trade, investment and innovation, said: “This is an extremely exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is situated at the very forefront of this.”

Nik Smith, UK country executive at Lockheed Martin, said: “The UK has a vibrant space sector, which can stimulate the national as well as regional economies. As a long-standing strategic partner to the UK, Lockheed Martin is committed to building on its proud heritage to support the UK government’s role of growing capabilities in space, exciting imagination and advancing the frontiers of science.

“From the outset our focus has been on realising the greatest economic benefit for the UK through the Spaceflight programme. The transfer of our UK spaceflight operations to Shetland will not only broaden launch options available in the UK, but also ensure the economic benefits of these endeavours are felt more widely.”

Brother and sister from Aith triumph in space art contest

The winners of Shetland Space Centre’s art contest, whose prize is a trip to Cape Canaveral in Florida, are a brother and sister from Aith.

Signe and Lockie Bullough, aged eight and 10, submitted a joint entry of a female astronaut with a puffin on top of her helmet and a rocket taking off in the background. The pair have an Unst connection as their mum, Lynn Ritch, is from the island.

Theirs was one of a remarkable 192 entries received, and the quality of the submissions was so high that the judges decided to award prizes to three children in three different age groups, five-seven, eight-11 and 12+. They will each receive a voucher for Mareel.

They were (five-seven): first Aly Work (aged seven), second Isla Somerville (six) and third Thea Tallack (six).

(Eight-11): first Levi Cogle (10), second Rashik Saravanan (10) and third Vaila Gunn (eight).

And 12+: first Prasheeta Saravanan (13), second Connie Dickie (16) and third Emma Henry (14).

SSC administrator Carol Duncan, who judged the entries along with SSC director of Shetland operations Yvette Hopkins, Graeme Howell, chief executive of Shetland Arts, and Unst artist Pat Cerasale, said: “It was a fantastic competition, with a really high standard of entry.

“Congratulations to Signe and Lockie, who will be heading off to Florida along with their mum and dad when the travel situation returns to normal.

“We will shortly be putting up a selection of the artworks on our website for all to see, as they deserve to be seen.”

 

SSC replaces face to face meetings with phone calls

Shetland Space Centre is replacing its planned face to face meetings during this week’s round of public consultation events with phone calls after the latest Covid-19 advice from the Scottish Government. 

The online events, from 4pm to 8pm on Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th October, will still go ahead. They can be accessed via https://consultation.shetlandspacecentre.com

Instead of the proposed face to face meetings, however, members of the Shetland Space Centre team will be available by phone in half hour slots from 12pm to 3pm. These appointments can be booked by emailing [email protected] 

The online consultation event will be attended by the project’s lead planning consultant, Alan Farningham, SSC project director Scott Hammond and experts who have been carrying out studies as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment that will be submitted with the planning application. They will be available to answer questions and provide any additional information or clarification as required.

Isles innovators urged to head online to learn about support and funding

Do you have a great idea that you think could be a big deal in technology or manufacturing? But you’re not sure about what steps to take next?

Local individuals, companies and organisations with innovative schemes in mind are invited to a free virtual event on Thursday 29th October where they can find out how to access support and funding.

The event, from 09.30-13.30, is being hosted by Shetland Space Centre, Shetland Islands Council and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), a Government organisation that directly funds innovative ideas that benefit the UK’s Armed Forces and national security.

Speakers will attend from organisations covering a wide range of interests, including artificial intelligence, downstream use of satellite data, defence and security, the internet of things and a range of other technology.

In addition to SSC, SIC and DASA, the organisations include Censis, The Data Lab, ESA Business Applications, KTN, Innovate and Interface.

Yvette Hopkins, SSC director of Shetland Operations, said: “We are pleased to be joining with SIC and DASA in hosting this virtual event to highlight not only the wide range of organisations that can help support and fund your innovations, but the innovative mindset and business acumen resident in Shetland.

“SSC looks forward to potentially working together with local businesses, academia and innovators on forward thinking ideas and concepts to support our spaceport plans for Unst.”

Maggie Sandison, Chief Executive of Shetland Islands Council, said: “New technologies and projects such as the Shetland Space Centre offer local companies and individuals the chance to get involved in innovative and creative work.

“This event provides a chance to see what kind of support is out there, and I hope, provides individuals and local businesses with a sense of the range of new opportunities that exist even in the particularly challenging economic environment we face.”

Dr Debra Carr, DASA Innovation Partner for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be joining this event. DASA offers fantastic opportunities to fast track the development of your innovations with UK Government funding. We are excited to hear from innovators across the Shetland Islands and to learn about your work.”

You can find out more and register to attend by visiting the event website at https://shetlandspacecentre.com/dasa/

 

New round of space site consultation events to be held in October

A second round of public consultation events is to be held prior to the submission of a full planning application for a vertical launch site at Lamba Ness in Unst for small rockets.

Following the success of the pre-application events held in May, they will again be held online.

However, face-to face-meetings with members of the Shetland Space Centre team will also be available by prior appointment and in compliance with prevailing Covid-19 regulations.

The online events will be held between 4pm and 8pm on Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th October with face-to-face appointments available in half-hour slots from 10am-12pm and 1-3pm on these days.

The online events will be accessible via www.consultation.shetlandpsacecentre.com and appointments can be booked by emailing [email protected] or telephoning Carol Duncan on 07766 231239.

SSC is seeking planning permission to build a vertical launch spaceport, including a launch pad complex, mobile tracking stations and assembly/integration hangar buildings with associated security fencing, access and servicing at Lamba Ness.

It also intends to create a launch and range control centre at Saxa Vord and construct a new section of access road at Northdale, just north of the former RAF base.

The online consultation events will be attended by the project’s lead planning consultant Alan Farningham, SSC project director Scott Hammond and a variety of specialists who have been carrying out detailed studies as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment that will be submitted in support of the planning application. They will be available to answer questions and provide any additional information or clarification as required.

Similar to the public consultation events held in May, for those interested parties unable to attend or who do not have access to the internet, alternative means will again be made available to contact Shetland Space Centre via post, telephone and email to obtain further information and ask questions.

An updated publicity leaflet and accompanying questionnaire will be delivered to all domestic properties in Unst with the relevant contact information and further details of the proposals.

Although a second round of pre-application community consultation is not a Scottish Government statutory requirement, SSC considers it important that everyone has a further opportunity to comment on the draft proposals before formal submission to Shetland Islands Council for consideration and determination.

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “Despite some limitations with the online format, the first round of public consultations in May went very well and, following discussions with Unst Community Council, we are conducting the same type of event again in October.

“For those who are unable to attend the online events, face-to-face meetings on each of the days listed with Alan Farningham and myself will be available on request. These will be by appointment only and strictly follow the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 protocols.

“We look forward to engaging with everyone as our proposals progress towards a full planning application being submitted to the council.”

 

Canadian launch company to use SSC as primary launch site

C6 Launch Systems and the Shetland Space Centre today announce the signing of a Letter of Intent for C6 Launch to use the Shetland Space Centre (SCC) in Unst as its primary launch facility.

Richard McCammon, President of C6 Launch, said: “In SCC, C6 Launch finds a perfect partner. Shetland Space Centre will provide all the infrastructure from launchpad to data communications and tracking that we could ask for. Being at the northernmost location in Scotland gives us the latitude we need to insert nano satellites to the perfect orbit.”

C6’s initial orbital launch capability is being designed for 30kg payloads in a 16U configuration to be delivered into a nominal 600km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

Other orbits, altitudes and payloads are also planned. C6 Launch will provide dedicated launch capacity for nano and CubeSat operators on demand. Shetland Space Centre will house all launch operation facilities, payload processing and integration/assembly facilities, multiple launch pads and a variety of operational and security services.

Frank Strang, CEO of Shetland Space Centre, said: “We are looking forward greatly to this collaboration with C6 Launch Systems.

“Richard and his team have been very clear about their needs and hugely supportive of our plans to provide a route to market for small satellites here in Shetland.”

A 2018 business case by Frost and Sullivan, estimated the potential UK smallsat launch services market at USD$5.5 billion from 2021 to 2030. The report said the existing rideshare market which is growing at 5% a year can only meet less than 35% of the total smallsat launch demand.

According to Frost and Sullivan, rideshare models are not fulfilling smallsat launch demand and a smallsat operator “compromises on orbit based on the primary payload and has a wait period of about 18–24 months”.

Shetland Space Centre recently completed its first community consultation as part of the process toward approval and licensing of launch operations by the UK Government.

SSC expects to complete all submissions to the UK Government by the autumn of this year in order to be approved for launch operations in 2021.

The Shetland location was cited an independent Deimos Sceptre report for the UK Space Agency as the best location in the UK for vertical launch out of eight potential sites. The remote northerly location means rockets can avoid overly populated areas on their way into orbit and is ideally situated for high-demand polar and SSO orbits.

About C6 Launch Systems – Small Payloads – On Time. On Target

C6Launch Systems is a Canadian-based space technology company developing a dedicated small-sat launch capability to place payloads up to 30 kg in a nominal 600 km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). This means that small-sat game changers, first movers and those with urgent operational requirements can deploy payloads where they want, when they want without compromising their orbit or mission. The C6 Rocket utilizes proven, best-in-class capabilities from the engine to the deployer, with integration and other technologies from C6’s talented, expert team of space engineers. C6 is led by veteran entrepreneur Richard McCammon (Delego). For more information visit www.C6launch.com

A message to the Unst community

This is an update on what the project team has been up to during the Covid-19 lockdown with regards to community consultation. Work has been continuing at pace, although inevitably not as rapidly as it might have during normal times. Unfortunately, much of the work has to be done remotely.

Most significantly from a community point of view, we have been preparing for the exhibition, in just over a week’s time, that is a requirement of our having submitted a pre-planning application notification (PAN) to Shetland Islands Council. Every household in Unst has been sent details of this in two separate leaflets. Ideally, we would have loved for this to have been a series of face-to-face sessions, but unfortunately due the lockdown it is impossible to hold public events. There can be no substitute for physical interaction, but the Scottish Government has put in place temporary measures that allow us and other projects around the country to engage virtually.

To avoid any misunderstanding, this is not our full planning application, which among other things will require a range of studies, including but not limited to natural heritage (including birds), noise and vibration, transport and access and health and safety. When the lockdown has been eased, we will be able to complete all of this work, which will then feed into an Environmental Impact Assessment that will be submitted as part of the full planning application, hopefully in September.  We are bound by statutory process in how we approach this and to deviate would be a clear breach of the planning guidelines, therefore we must adhere to the protocols which we are sure you will all appreciate.

The PAN provides a general description or outline of what Shetland Space Centre is proposing, and during the exhibition we will be able to answer any questions that you might have.

Far from trying to impose any kind of control or limit, we will welcome all and any questions during the three sessions that will form the exhibition. Naturally, some of you will have concerns, and we will address those in an open and transparent way. If you are unable to participate in the exhibition, the leaflets contain details of alternative means of contacting the team.

Our message on this could not be clearer.

We will also welcome any ideas or suggestions that you feel may be appropriate that would enable us to do things better.

It is important that these questions/suggestions are posed as part of the exhibition or via the alternative means referred to above because they will then become a formal element of the planning process and be taken account of as we move to the next stage.

The PAN exhibition is only the beginning of the community engagement – we will continue to liaise with you in the weeks and months ahead. Over the next month or so we will be appointing an education and community engagement officer to ensure that we are contactable and engaged as much as possible.

Apart from our PAN preparations, we are in daily contact with our industry partners throughout the world as well as the UK Space Agency, the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Defence among others building up the case for a sustainable space economy in Shetland. We are also engaged with SIC on a joint approach to elicit support for Unst from the Scottish Government’s Islands Deal, which if successful could benefit both Unst and Uist.

We look forward to welcoming you – and your questions – at the exhibition next week. Please log on, or contact us via the email or phone number provided in the leaflet.

 

Public consultation event for vertical launch site

Initial plans for a vertical launch site in Unst for small rockets, which will open up a brand-new sector of the local and national economy, is to be the subject of a public consultation event next month.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the pre-planning application public exhibition for Shetland Space Centre’s draft proposals to bring spaceflight to the isles will take place online at www.consultation.shetlandspacecentre.com on Tuesday 12th, Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th May, between 4pm and 8pm inclusive each day.

This is a week later than originally planned, following the Scottish Government’s introduction last week of temporary regulations which allow such events to be held virtually while public gatherings are banned.

In what is deemed by planning legislation to be a “major” application, SSC is seeking permission to build a vertical launch spaceport, including a launch pad complex, mobile tracking stations and assembly/integration hangar buildings with associated security fencing, access and servicing at Lamba Ness.

It also intends to create a launch and range control centre at the Saxa Vord Resort complex and construct a new section of access road through Northdale, which is situated just north of the former RAF base. Both will be the subject of two smaller separate “local” planning applications.

The online consultation event will be attended by the project’s lead planning consultant and a representative of Shetland Space Centre who will be available to answer questions and provide any additional information or clarification as required.

For those interested parties unable to attend or who do not have access to the online consultation event, alternative means are being made available for contacting Shetland Space Centre via post, telephone and email to obtain further information and ask questions.

A leaflet is being delivered to all domestic properties in Unst with this contact information and details of the draft proposals. This is not required by the Scottish Government’s temporary regulations, but SSC considered it was important to ensure that everyone possible had an opportunity to comment on the draft proposals.

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “We would much prefer to be holding the exhibition where people could come along in person. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to do so.

“We would like to emphasise that this is a pre-application public engagement event, which outlines our initial draft proposals in very general terms at this stage.

“A further opportunity to make comments on the proposals will be available, prior to submitting our full planning application to Shetland Islands Council later in the year, once the detail has evolved in tandem with the Environmental Impact Assessment that we have commissioned.”

Trip to Cape Canaveral up for grabs for winner of space art contest

The winner of a children’s competition for the best drawing or painting on the theme of Shetland and space will secure a trip for two to Cape Canaveral.

The contest for local children between the ages of five and 18 has been organised by Shetland Space Centre, which is developing plans for a vertical rocket launch site and ground station in Unst.

“We know that Shetland is blessed with great artistic ability among young folk, and this is an opportunity for you to show off your skills,” said Shetland Space Centre administrator Carol Duncan.

“There is an exciting prize for the winner – a trip to Cape Canaveral in Florida with your dad or mum or guardian when the Covid-19 lockdown is over.

“So we hope that you take up the challenge during this time when a lot of us are working from our kitchen tables to impress us.”

The entries, on the theme of Shetland and space, will be judged by a panel comprised of Graeme Howell, chief executive of Shetland Arts, Unst artist Pat Cerasale, Ms Duncan and Yvette Hopkins, SSC director of Shetland operations.

Entries should be scanned and emailed in PDF or JPG format to [email protected] along with the child’s name, parent or guardian’s name, address and contact telephone number. The closing date is Monday 24th August.

A selection of the artworks will be displayed on the SSC website.

The prize will consist of flights for two from Shetland to Orlando, seven nights’ accommodation, car rental, tours of the Kennedy Space Centre and Cape Canaveral Nature Reserve and Disney tickets. Dates will be agreed depending on availability.

 

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.”