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Shetland Space Centre receives £2m to initiate satellite launch programme


Shetland Space Centre’s (SSC) plan to build and operate the UK’s only satellite launch site has been given a major boost by a £2m investment from international private equity firm, Leonne International, in exchange for a 20% stake.

“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,” said Frank Strang MBE, CEO of Shetland Space Centre.

SSC plans to develop the launch site and ground station at the most northerly tip of Britain – the island of Unst in Shetland. 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.

It is planned for the SSC to create 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 has been developing its plans for the past two-and-a-half years, and collaborating with space industry giants such as Lockheed Martin, Aecom and ArianeGroup, and 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.

The SSC aims to have a fully operational Satellite Launch Facility and Ground Operations Centre by late 2021, allowing clients to operate from Unst. It is seen the best site in the UK for downloading data and analysing from low earth orbiting satellites and its climate makes it the ideal location for data storage. The SSC will serve the European and North American markets and with a supply chain matured by the Oil and Gas Industry has all the logistical support necessary to ensure the successful delivery of a Space related economy.

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