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Business / Baltasound airfield to become part of space centre plans

An aerial shot of the Baltasound airfield. Photo: Shetland Space Centre

THE BALTASOUND airfield in Unst is set to be turned into a space industry hub is support of the planned satellite launch site at Lamba Ness, five kilometres to the north of disused airstrip.

The company behind the space centre plans said on Friday that the airfield at Ordale would initially be used for fuel and equipment storage but could ultimately also serve as an option for clients who wish to fly to Shetland.

The Baltasound airfield, which served as a hub for fixed-wing and helicopter traffic for the oil and gas industry until 1996, will also be house “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 Shetland Space Centre (SSC).

SSC chief executive Frank Strang said the company intends to refurbish the airfield lighting system and hangar so clients could use the 640m runway to fly in and out as required.

“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,” he said.

“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.”