AEROSPACE company and weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin has insisted its partnership with Shetland Space Centre is to develop a commercial space port and not a military or defence site.
Following the announcement earlier on Thursday that the aerospace giant had switched its allegiance from Sutherland to Shetland, concerns were raised locally that the proposed site in Unst could be used for military purposes such as directing drones towards military targets in the Middle East.
A spokesperson the company said the site at Lamba Ness was not to help launch drones, or similar, but a location to launch small commercial satellites from.
She said Lockheed Martin had plenty of commercial customers and not everything they were doing was military. Key for the Unst site, she said, was to develop commercial markets such as weather climate change observation and data tracking.
“It is that small satellite market that is the focus for the space port,” the spokesperson said.
The company’s UK’s executive Nik Smith, speaking to the BBC earlier on Thursday, added: “What are talking about is a commercial endeavour. This won’t be a military or defence site in any way.
“A lot of these space ports around the world sometimes get government and military customers who want to launch their satellites there, but this won’t be operated as a military facility or anything like that.”
Lockheed Martin is seen as a key customer for Shetland Space Centre as it brings expertise in space and credibility to the table; and is likely to generate further spin-offs for the SSC team.
The Lockheed spokesperson said the aim was to be ready for the first satellite launch in 2022.
“We are there to coordinate and facilitate and the make it happen, but we are not running the SSC,” she said.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 430 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News