Artist impression of spaceport.
Credit: Perfect Circle PV

The UK Space Agency has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland, on the north coast of Scotland.

Pegged at $31 million total, the two contract deal has Lockheed Martin establishing vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland and to develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire with support from two UK Space Agency grants.

Artist’s impression of vertical launch from UK spaceport.
Credit: Lockheed Martin.

Prime time rocket

A further $7 million will go to Orbex, a UK-based spaceflight company, to build an innovative new rocket dubbed Prime for launch from Sutherland, as well as $3 million to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the spaceport. The spaceport could see rocket lift-offs from the early 2020s.

With its high northern inclination, the UK is a geographically strategic location for launch, and the north of Scotland is well-placed to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits such as polar and near-polar orbit.

Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild

The Prime booster would deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane engine that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to hydrocarbon fuels, according to a press statement.

According to Orbex, Prime uses a novel zero-shock staging system called Magic, which leaves zero orbital debris. It also features a novel reusability concept, with an innovative new low mass recovery and reflight system.

Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild

One-stop-shop

The UK Space Agency announced at the Farnborough International Airshow a total of $41 million in government grants to establish the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland.

A number of sites across the UK are developing their spaceport plans. Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will be boosted by a new $3 million strategic development fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.

The announcement to develop launch capability is being viewed as Europe’s first one-stop-shop for building, launching and operating satellites.

For more detail, go to this press statement at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lockheed-martin-and-orbex-to-launch-uk-into-new-space-age

For more information on Orbex, go to:

http://orbex.space/

Also go to this video at:

https://youtu.be/TTzqW5mU7ao

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