Scotland: Spaceport and satellite launch site explained

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The landmark document, which was revealed on Monday, outlines the Government’s plan to strengthen and expand Britain’s reach into space. The Government has described the initiative as a “bold new strategy” that will fuel the UK’s “world-class space sector”. Chris Larmour, CEO of the Moray-based aerospace company Orbex, has welcomed the space strategy, branding it a major boost for Brexit Britain’s economic growth.

Mr Larmour said: “Orbex welcomes the unveiling of the UK Government’s first-ever National Space Strategy.

“We believe this industry has the ability to drive economic growth, productivity, innovation and job creation over the coming years.”

As part of the strategy, the UK will look to grow its share of the global space industry by 2030.

The UK space industry is presently estimated to account for about six percent of the global market and is valued at more than £16billion.

But the Government believes there is room for improvement and revealed on Monday the key strategies for strengthening the sector.

These include “unlocking growth” in the UK industry, working closely with international allies and partners, capitalising on and growing the UK’s status as a science superpower, and bolstering the nation’s space capabilities and services.

Companies like Orbex are already closely working with the Government on many of the goals, in particular, on dominating the European satellite market.

Mr Larmour said: “We are working towards becoming the first country to launch into orbit from Europe in late 2022, helping to establish the UK as a leader in small satellite launches.”

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Founded in 2016, the Scottish company is in the business of launching small satellites into orbit.

However, Orbex stands out from the crowd with its class of eco-friendly Prime rockets.

The rocket uses a renewable, bio-propane fuel that cuts down greenhouse emissions by up to 90 percent, compared to standard hydrocarbons.

The rocket’s design is also touted as up to 20 percent more efficient and boasts “high-performance” 3D printed engines.

Mr Larmour said: “The company’s ‘Prime’ rocket is one of the world’s most advanced, low-carbon micro-launch vehicles.

“It will launch from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland, the only UK spaceport to receive planning permission.

“Orbex is working with its partners to place a new generation of small satellites into orbit, enabling services such as earth observation and internet connectivity.”

Earlier this month, the Scottish Land Court has given the green light for the development of the Space Hub in Sutherland – the UK’s very first spaceport.

In 2019, the global space sector was estimated to be worth a staggering £270billion.

This figure is expected to almost double by 2030 to £490billion and Britain is looking to grab a slice of the pie.

Although not confirmed in the space strategy, the Government is expected to increase its share of six percent up to 10 percent by 2030.

George Freeman, Science and Innovation Minister said: “As we enter an exciting new space age, we have bold ambitions for the UK to be at the vanguard of this industry in our role as a science superpower – whether it’s launching the first satellite from British soil, or leading major international space missions to help combat climate change.

“Today’s National Space Strategy sets out our vision for ensuring that our thriving space sector lifts off for the long term.

“It will put rocket boosters under the UK’s most innovative space businesses, ensuring they can unlock private capital and benefit our home-grown space expertise.”

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