Shetland Space Centre: impact on locals?

2nd Mar 2021
Shetland Space Centre: impact on locals?

Shetland’s economy is struggling due to a decline in construction projects, as well as oil and gas production, but Shetland Space Centre can potentially turn this situation around for the better. The proposal to create a Space Centre has reassured the locals while causing some excitement. People are concerned about the safety of living in the spaceport vicinity and wonder if such a site will be economically feasible. 

Why Shetland?

The UK has a highly developed space industry, involving about 1,000 companies and organisations. Today the country is Europe’s leader in the production of small satellites and is actively building lightweight launch vehicles. Local launch sites are the only thing lacking to ensure the full cycle of orbital services. This gap should be filled by the construction of several spaceports in Wales, England, and Scotland – in Cornwall, Snowdonia, Sutherland, Prestwick, Uist and Unst. The northernmost location of the island was not chosen by chance. The region has favourable conditions for SSC UK construction:

  • Geographic position allows the launch of small satellites into calculated orbits along the shortest trajectory and ensures stable ground communication with already operational spacecraft.
  • Royal Air Force radar station positioning that observes northern Europe.
  • Remote location from residential areas.

How safe is Shetland Space Centre?

Unst residents understand the scale of this construction, how much transportation it will require, and what a rocket launch is. So they are concerned about the Shetland Space Centre’s impact on their health and the safety of their homes.

The project leaders claim that all rocket launches from Unst will be carried out over the sea in a northerly direction. Besides, the project bans all flights over residential areas. This means that equipment crashes do not threaten the infrastructure and the residential sector. Similarly, Shetland Space Centre impact on air pollution will be minimal.

Shetland Space Centre assures that unless the spaceport meets all regulations, it will not get a launch permission. The regulations in question are based on the US civil aviation standards. Residents will not be physically harmed, and they will not have to abandon their homes once the space centre is operational.

The civilian population of Unst may face temporary construction work inconveniences, restricting their leisure time outdoors. However, experts are already working on this issue. They want to give people an alternative to current hiking routes so that construction would not affect tourism in the area. Developers plan to create special shelters for observing nature and build footpaths along the highway.

How will locals benefit from SSC UK construction?

Space Centre construction and commissioning will be beneficial not only for the Unst economy but also for Britain as a whole. The facility can create hundreds of new job opportunities. Besides, Shetland Space Centre plans to employ locals first and hire other experts later. SSC UK construction will require experts in the following areas:

  • launch site construction and maintenance
  • creating town infrastructure
  • tourism
  • education, since young people will need training in various space sector niches
  • commerce
  • transport
  • security
  • technical maintenance
  • environmental protection
  • management
  • medicine. 

The area should be of interest to tourists all year round; so, the service industry can expect high profits. Shetland Space Centre has every chance to become the region’s economic and technological centre, making a significant contribution to the UK’s prosperity. 

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