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Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Space / Rocket firm given licence to let launch debris fall into sea

HyImpulse has been carrying out propulsion tests at the former Scatsta Airport for a number of years. Photo: HyImpulse

A ROCKET company has been given a marine licence to deposit debris in the sea during launches from the SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst.

The Marine Scotland licence for HyImpulse applies for the period between 1 August and 30 November and relates to an area of sea around 18 to 55 nautical miles north of Unst.

A risk assessment was included as part of the application.

The licence allows the permanent deposits of rocket nose cone weighting up to 140kg, as well as a manacle ring weighing a maximum of 1.5kg.

It also permits a steel hatch, also weighing up to 1.5kg, to be permanently deposited.

These items are expected to sink to the seabed.

Temporary deposits include a rocket booster plus parachute, weighing up to 800kg, and a drogue parachute with structural attachments.

These are expected to be recovered from the sea.

Licence application documents show that the nosecone is expected to separate from the SR75 rocket when it reaches 30km, with parachutes then deployed.

It is expected that a booster will also descend to the sea around 30 nautical miles north of the spaceport.

A 20km exclusion zone will be place around the “splashdown” area, which will be included in a notice to mariners.

A range of organisations and agencies have been informed, including the emergency services and the coastguard.

German firm HyImpulse hopes to carry out launches from SaxaVord later this year.

It previously said it would conduct two sub-orbital launches from Unst from August 2024 onwards.

The company had also said that these 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.

Rocket company RFA, which has exclusive use of one of SaxaVord’s launchpads, is also proposing blasting off from Unst later this year.

MPs on Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee recently toured the SaxaVord site as part of a visit to Shetland which also included engagement with the fishing industry.

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