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Business / German space company keen to test rocket engines at Scatsta

Scatsta airport on Wednesday afternoon - Photo: Shetland NewsPhoto: Shetland News

A ROCKET engine testing facility could be coming to the vacant Scatsta Airport in conjunction with plans for a space centre in Unst.

German rocket company HyImpulse are leasing a small part of the Scatsa site for a test facility in collaboration with Shetland Space Centre.

A change of use planning application has now been submitted to the council.

Space centre chief executive Frank Strang said his team has other clients keen to do the same.

HyImpulse recently announced its intention to launch from the proposed Shetland Space Centre in Unst.

Speaking about the Scatsta development, Strang said: “We have always said the benefits of the space economy would flow back throughout Shetland and this is a first ‘small’ but very important step.

“HyImpulse have set up a Lerwick registered UK company and are engaged daily on matters Shetland.”

Plans submitted for the rocket engine testing facility show that the actual area to be used would be very minimal, utilising one of the helicopter stands at the airport.

It says that the “testing is to support further design and engineering before moving into production and orbital launch”.

The tests would also analyse the environmental impact of the HyPLOX-75 rocket engine.

The area being proposed is behind the hangars at the opposite end to the main road.

Environmental and noise impact assessments have been included as part of the planning application.

It notes that the “propellants are completely non-toxic, which is a key advantage to many other rocket systems”.

Applicant Shetland Space Centre is seeking temporary permission for two years, which will support design requirements for future testing at Scatsta under a permanent application.

Scatsta Airport, which was used for oil and gas flights, has been vacant since closing last year with the loss of many jobs.

Shetland Islands Council then launched an expressions of interest process in the buildings, with the space centre one of the applicants.