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Business / Shetland Space Centre commercial not military, says Lockheed Martin

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.

‘Sky no longer the limit’ says space centre boss after aerospace giant confirms move to Shetland

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.