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Space / Companies sign on to create spaceport launch rail

SAXAVORD Spaceport has announced partnerships with companies for the design and construction of a rocket launch rail at the Lamba Ness site in Unst.

Lerwick Engineering and Fabrication (LEF) and T12 Consultancy – specialists in project engineering – will design and construct the launch rail.

The project has secured £378,000 of funding from the UK Space Agency.

The space agency has also awarded nearly £400,000 to HyImpulse to create a Shetland-based motor test programme.

A launch rail is a critical component for directing suborbital launch vehicles.

The remotely operated system will be able to support different rockets with a total gross lift-off mass of up to three tonnes.

It is said the launch rail will allow SaxaVord to widen its service offerings.

The spaceport said “suborbital launches allow, amongst others, to test, demonstrate and qualify key components for satellites and orbital launches, as well as for scientific research and experiments that require microgravity”.

SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang said: “Construction of SaxaVord’s launch site is progressing at pace and this contract marks a significant next step in the design of our industry-leading launch facilities.

“By working with local Shetland-based companies we’re continuing to support local businesses and industries at every stage in the Spaceport’s progression.”

Robin Huber, director of business development at the spaceport, added: “These contracts signify an important moment in bringing the spaceport to life.

“The launch rail will support the development of new technologies which in turn will influence more sustainable space-related activities.”

LEF technical manager Callum Mills said: “We are very pleased to be involved with the SaxaVord Spaceport project, we see this as a fantastic opportunity to play our part in a project which is not only significant for our company but Shetland as a whole.

“This has been a very exciting opportunity for LEF to apply our vast experience from our operations within the oil and gas sector for the last 30 years to a unique and exciting project in a new market. We look forward to supporting SaxaVord in their mission to deliver this project.”

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