Has Lockheed Martin changed focus from Scottish spaceport in Sutherland?

Lockheed Martin will apparently transfer some of its funding from the Scottish spaceport in Sutherland to the Shetland Space Centre project. According to the company and the UK space agency, the change will not affect the original launch site in Sutherland.

Scottish spaceport in Sutherland has seen multiple investments in the last few years. However, US-based company Lockheed Martin, one of this project’s major backers, is also supposedly looking to invest in the Shetland Space Centre (SSC) project. It has been suggested in the local press that Lockheed Martin is expected to focus its efforts on SSC, which could be a heavy blow to Sutherland.

Sutherland spaceport
The proposed Scottish spaceport launch pad design for Sutherland.

The change of direction for Lockheed Martin was reported in the local Press and Journal.

Scottish spaceport at Shetland.
Local newspaper, The Press & Journal reported on the change of direction for the Scottish Spaceport.

Currently, the Scottish spaceport project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. However, Lockheed Martin has already secured over 20 million pounds of funding for this vertical launch site. There have been questions raised over whether they can use this funding at the Shetland Space Centre instead.

Official statement on Scottish spaceport development

According to Lockheed Martin, the current change in funding should not affect the construction of the Scottish spaceport in Sutherland. The company’s management have stated that this project started as a multi-company construction site, and it will remain that way. So, reinvesting some of their funding to Shetland should not affect Sutherland at all.

Shetland Space Centre
The proposed Scottish spaceport design at Shetland Space Centre.

One of the reasons for public growing concern about the fate of Sutherland construction site is that it was supposed to create 400 new jobs for local residents. But in reality it is likely that only forty new job positions would emerge and many of those would be incoming people. Of course, this was a welcome and important change for the local economy, but a far cry from the initial employment opportunities that were banded about.

The UK Space Agency, however, states that additional funding into SSC should not affect any plans concerning Scottish spaceport or local jobs. According to an agency spokesman, not only do their plans regarding this major project but also their ambitions remain unchanged.

The Scottish spaceport in Sutherland will deal with the vertical launch of small satellites. Right now, Scotland is one of the most promising country’s in Europe’s space race and one of the leading manufacturers of small satellites in Europe.

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