SaxaVord Spaceport in Shetland, Scotland has become the UK’s first licensed vertical launch spaceport.
The spaceport has received the licence from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ahead of rocket launches planned for next year. It is the first-ever vertical spaceport on UK soil and the first fully-licensed vertical spaceport in Western Europe.
SaxaVord was assessed by the space regulator to verify that appropriate safety, security, and environmental criteria are met to operate a spaceport, and that it has the suitable infrastructure, equipment, and services to accommodate vertical space launches.
The licence permits SaxaVord to host up to 30 launches a year
There are several launch operators from around the world developing rockets to launch from SaxaVord at various stages of the assessment process with the Civil Aviation Authority. These include Scotland-based company Skyrora.
Tim Johnson, director of space regulation at the CAA said, “Granting SaxaVord their licence is an era defining moment for the UK space sector.
“This marks the beginning of a new chapter for UK space as rockets may soon launch satellites into orbit from Scotland.
Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport said, “The award of our spaceport licence is both historic for Shetland, Scotland and the UK and places us firmly at the leading edge of the European and global space economy.
“As importantly for me it is also a fantastic achievement by our Operations and Licencing Team led by Scott Hammond who have been working tirelessly alongside the UK Civil Aviation Authority for almost three years to secure this award.
The other spaceport licensed by the CAA is in Newquay in Cornwall.
Last week HyImpulse UK, a Shetland based launch company, received £3.4 million (US$4.4 million) of UK Government funding. The company plans to run its Hybrid Propulsion Test Programme and launch their rocket, named SL1, from SaxaVord.