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Business / German rocket company commits to using Unst space centre

Lamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base. Photo: Shetland Space CentreLamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base. Photo: Shetland Space Centre

A GERMAN rocket maker has announced its intention to launch from the proposed Shetland Space Centre in Unst.

HyImpulse Technologies plans to begin engine testing and launching sub-orbital sounding rockets in Shetland this year with a view to a maiden orbital flight in 2023.

The company has pioneered environmentally-friendly hybrid fuel technology which will be deployed in all launches.

HyImpulse Co-CEO Christian Schmierer said: “We have signed letters of intent with several potential customers to take their payloads into orbit.

“It was therefore very important for us to secure a launch pad and site ahead of time and to start with our mission planning.

“Shetland Space Centre allows us to offer frequent, reliable access to space with a great variety of efficient flight routes.”

Co-CEO Mario Kobald added: “Our engine will be green and we are pleased to see their emphasis on environmental and social responsibilities.”

Shetland Space Centre CEO Frank Strang said: “We are truly international in our outlook and are delighted that long discussions with Christian, Mario and their team through our German subsidiary have culminated in common activities starting this year.

“Post-Covid, we look forward to welcoming everyone associated with the HyImpulse project to Shetland and to the beginning of a strong partnership.”

The company is the latest to commit to using the space centre, which hopes to hold its first launches next year.

Shetland Space Centre, meanwhile, has also been collaborating with the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute.

Strang said the company is “looking to share knowledge and help train their young people so they can gain expertise and skills that can be applied in Africa”.

There will also be a focus on how space technology can be used to “help mitigate and provide solutions to problems and issues such as drought and disaster relief.”

Last month Shetland Space Centre submitted three planning applications, including for satellite launch facilities at Lamba Ness in Unst.

There are also plans to rejuvenate the former Valhalla Brewery premises as part of the project, and install new public road at Northdale.

Shetland Space Centre is looking to achieve a maximum of 30 satellite launches per year from Lamba Ness, although in the first year of operation, it is anticipated that there will be up to 10 launches.