Shetland's SaxaVord UK Spaceport highlights benefits of working across national borders – Scotsman comment

Before the year is out, Shetland is set to enter the space race.

A mock-up of a satellite launch from the new spaceport set for Unst, Shetland, which has now been approved by planners
A mock-up of a satellite launch from the new spaceport set for Unst, Shetland, which has now been approved by planners

With the approval of planning permission by Shetland Isles Council – which still could be called in by the Scottish government – the privately funded SaxaVord UK Spaceport now hopes to send its first satellite into orbit by the end of the year.

The first vertical-launch spaceport in the UK, it represents a major development for Scotland’s already burgeoning space industry.

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Scotland has more than 130 companies involved in the sector, Glasgow manufactures more satellites than anywhere else in Europe, and it is hoped that the industry will grow in value to a total of £4 billion by 2030, according to Scottish Development International.

SaxaVord UK Spaceport claimed the new installation at Lamba Ness in Unst would help fulfil “the UK’s ambitions of becoming a global science superpower” and help make Britain the European hub for commercial spaceflight.

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Shetland wins space race with UK's first vertical spaceport approved for island

In these troubled times, it is exciting and welcome news for Scotland’s economy that also promises new scientific insights and discoveries.

And it is also yet another example of the benefits of the interconnected world in which we now live.

Frank Strang, SaxaVord Spaceport’s chief executive, said their clients are expected to include Edinburgh-based launch company Skyrora. “Although Scottish domiciled, their roots are very much in Ukraine. I would like to express our very best wishes and support to all their staff and families who are now caught up in the dreadful events in Ukraine following the senseless Russian invasion of their homeland,” he said.

Working together, across artificial national borders, humanity can achieve great things. The sooner we all realise this, the better.

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