Lockheed Martin confirms move from Sutherland to Shetland Space Centre

26th Oct 2020
Shetland Space Centre

Back in March of this year we reported that the US arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin was to move its launch plans from Sutherland to the Shetland Space Centre, despite it being tied to Sutherland as part of its UK Space Agency grant of £13.5m.

There was no official statement from Lockheed Martin at the time, so our information was based on information we received from somebody close to the situation. Although the company did confirm at the time that they were planning to use multiple sites including both Sutherland and Shetland.

The news was also covered extensively by local newspapers…

Lockheed Martin launch from Shetland Space Centre

Recent news stories have confirmed that Lockheed Martin does intend to work with the Shetland Space Centre instead of Sutherland, confirming that our original story was factually correct.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18812393.lockheed-martin-puts-boosters-shetland-space-centre-plans/

The news also appeared on the official UK government website…

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shetland-spaceport-boosts-uks-plans-for-launch

As the UK Government grant was tied specifically to the Sutherland site, Lockheed Martin would have had to seek approval from Government to transfer the operation to Shetland, which it now appears has been granted.

There will have been a number of factors taken into account before Lockheed Martin made the decision to move, one of which would be the now limited capacity of the Sutherland Spaceport, restricting it to only 12 launches per year, all of which will be secured by Danish company Orbex.

What does this mean for the UK Space industry?

There could be some considerable consequences for the overall space industry in the UK as it could now lead to Lockheed Martin securing all available launch capacity at the Shetland site, particularly is any planning permission issued will insist on limiting the number of launches.

This also means that the other potential launch sites across the UK, specifically the proposed site in the Western Isles, will need to step up a gear if there is to be enough capacity to accommodate a growing demand.

We will watch with interest to see what Lockheed Martin commit to at the Shetland Space Centre.

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