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Space / Spaceport team applies for licences

The SaxaVord space port is expected to host the first vertical satellite launching the UK late in 2022. Image: Rory Gillies for SaxaVord (UK) Spaceport

PLANS for a spaceport in Unst have inched forward again this week after licence applications were submitted to the industry regulator.

Spaceport and range licence applications are now sitting with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

It comes after Shetland Islands Council confirmed it was minded to approve the planning application for SaxaVord Spaceport’s launch site.

The spaceport said once regulatory approval has been granted, Westminster and Holyrood will be “one step closer to achieving their ambition of orbital launch from the UK by the end of this year”.

SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang said: “Our operations team have been working extremely hard on multiple fronts over the last two years to ensure that all the pieces of a very complicated jigsaw were prepared so we could hit the ground running as we started the year.

“Our licence applications mark the next milestone in our ambition to become the first orbital launch site in the UK. Our applications will now be assessed and evaluated by the CAA, a process which will take at least six months.

“The beginning of 2022 has already been significant for our team and for Shetland, with the approval of our planning permission. I am confident that the end of the year will be equally momentous for us and the UK vertical launch industry.”

Due to the space-related nature of the application Scottish minsters have to review the launch site planning application before it can receive formal consent.

The Scottish Government has also clarified that ministers will also need to be notified regarding any related planning applications, such as the proposal to turn the former Valhalla Brewery building into a launch and range control centre.