GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Thursday 30 May 2024
 12.2°C   NW Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Space / Rocket company switches maiden launch to Australia as SaxaVord infrastructure not yet ready

Testing at Scatsta. Image: HyImpulse

A GERMAN rocket company says it has moved a maiden launch operation from Shetland to Australia because the infrastructure at SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst is not yet ready.

HyImpulse will now undertake the maiden suborbital launch of its SR75 rocket from the Koonibba Test Range in Adelaide in March.

The company said transportation of the launch hardware will commence shortly and preparations for the campaign are “ramping up in the final phase”.

But HyImpulse had previously intended to undertake the maiden launch from Unst, and had carried out engine testing at the former Scatsta Airport site.

The company was also awarded a licence from UK regulator Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to undertake one suborbital launch from December onwards. The CAA had confirmed that given the nature of the launch, it could take place regardless if SaxaVord had received its spaceport licence or not.

HyImpulse CEO Mario Kobald told Shetland News that “unfortunately SaxaVord launch infrastructure was not yet fully available for our planned launch”.

“Since our first launch is an important and urgent milestone for us, we had to switch to Australia launch site,” he said.

However, the the company is still planning to launch from Unst “when ready”.

In December last year SaxaVord Spaceport said it had received £378,000 of UK Space Agency funding for a launch rail, which was said to be a “critical component for directing suborbital launch vehicles”.

The spaceport said it would not add anything to a press release issued on Wednesday which confirmed that HyImpulse intends to conduct two sub-orbital launches from Unst from August 2024 onwards.

That will be followed by the first orbital launches from late 2025 onwards, rising to full commercial operations by 2030.

With the spaceport team likening SaxaVord to an airport, HyImpulse is not the only client planning to use the facilities in Unst.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Rocket company RFA is expected to carry out an orbital launch in the second quarter of 2024, while a government-backed project involving Lockheed Martin and ABL could also launch next year.

Speaking at a UHI Shetland conference on space at the weekend, SaxaVord’s director of facilities Debbie Strang said a spaceport licence from the CAA was “absolutely imminent”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.