Plans for Shetland to become Scottish space hub

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Scotland’s most northerly island, Unst in Shetland, could become a launch base for satellites under plans revealed by a local compabny.

The BBC reported that in-depth proposals could be submitted to the UK Space Agency as early as next year, with plans to launch payloads into space from the island, which has a population of around 600.

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Westminster is currently dealing with the detail of legislation to allow the vertical launches of satellites from the UK for the first time.

The Western Isles, Prestwick, and Machrihanish have been touted as alternative space flight centres.

There is already a burgeoning space industry in Scotland, mostly concerned with the construction and maintenance of satellite, which is believed to employ around 7,000 people.

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Malcolm Macdonald, director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications at Strathclyde University, told the BBC: “You are looking to launch away from people, so you can’t have any local population in the area, any villages, or towns or that sort of thing.

“And you then can’t overfly people as well and you can’t overfly oil rigs and these types of things as well.

“You are really looking for where there is very little in the air and very little on the sea, and that’s why the north of Scotland is really attractive for this.”