A Tug of War between the UK and Scottish Governments about the Use of the Sutherland Spaceport

15th Dec 2020
Sutherland Spaceport

The Sutherland spaceport once made the news after there was mention of it being a military launch site. Even as the UK government were pursuing this proposal, the concept didn’t sit well with the Scottish government. They intend for the spaceport to operate as a commercial hub for small satellite launches for numerous customers. 

It comes after the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced establishing a military port in Scotland by 2022. It’ll see a rocket launched from the area, a first for the region. The news came as a surprise to many in the region near the launch site. 

To make matters worse, the UK government never bothered to consult with the Scottish government on this sensitive matter. However, it comes as no surprise as a number of parties have shown interest in the Sutherland spaceport, currently being developed by the HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) – including the military. 

Upon its completion, the launch site will see its first commercial rocket launched from there in 2022 if all goes according to plan. 

Purpose of the Sutherland Spaceport as per the Scottish Government

Once news about the UK government’s intentions spread, the Scottish government took a stand on the matter. The launch site will serve as a commercial hub and not a military one as loosely proposed by Prime Minister Johnson. 

Upon completion, the spaceport will be the first of its kind in Europe, offering small satellite launch services. Apart from that, end-to-end solutions are part of its package and innovations that impact the space industry. 

All small satellites launched from the Sutherland launch site serve a variety of purposes. While some will be for mapping, others will help bring together crucial data on the impact that climate change has on the planet. 

On the other hand, Prime Minister Johnson’s announcement could see the Sutherland launch site have a new military command centre set up. The space command centre will have full staff from all arms of the military and civil servants on board. 

All the Sutherland spaceport staff will be under a commander and work in collaboration with the Defence ministry. More so, the Sutherland spaceport’s government vision aligns with its goals for a more advanced UK space industry.

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