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.”