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Space / Nearly £20m spent on spaceport project to date as construction remains ahead of schedule

Photo: SaxaVord Spaceport

CONSTRUCTION of the SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst, where the UK’s first vertical rocket launches will take place next year, is ahead of schedule.

A total of £19 million, all privately raised, has been spent on the project to date.

A major milestone was reached this month when the first concrete base for a launch stool at the Lamba Ness site in Unst was completed. Rocket stage testing is expected to begin there early next year.

Preparation work is now underway on the first integration hangar, where rockets will be assembled and their small satellite payloads for low earth, sun-synchronous or polar orbits, be integrated.

The spend to date includes £9 million on public road improvements from the community of Haroldswick up towards the 81-hectare site.

Construction work, which is employing more than 60 people on-site, started at the end of March this year.

Scott Hammond, deputy CEO and Debbie Strang, chief operating officer at the concrete base. Photo: SaxaVord Spaceport

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) this month launched a consultation to seek views on SaxaVord’s assessment of the environmental effects of the spaceport. The consultation closes on 8 December.

SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang said: “Our progress has been phenomenal, despite major constraints and significant challenges on a daily basis.

“It is a testament to the huge efforts of our spaceport team, main contractor DITT and sub-contractors such as Unst Plant, a local company created specifically to work on our project.

“More new space history will be made here in Shetland next spring and summer, with the first sub-orbital vertical launches from the UK, followed by vertical orbital launches later in the year.

“Alongside the eagerly anticipated horizontal launch from Cornwall, this will put the UK firmly on the international spaceflight stage.

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“We now have seven clients all vying for launch windows – and the good news is that we are ahead of schedule, meaning 2023 is going to be a hugely exciting year.”

Two of the three approved launchpads – Fredo and Elizabeth – are being developed in the first phase of construction, with the third, Calum, to be built in phase two.

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