SaxaVord Spaceport Licence GRANTED!18th Dec 2023
SaxaVord has become the UK’s first spaceport with a licence to carry out vertical rocket launches. The only other spaceport in the UK with a license is Cornwall Spaceport, which has permission for horizontal launches. The SaxaVord Spaceport Licence comes with a significant delay compared to the timeline spaceport CEO Frank Strang envisioned when he asked in May for the regulator to issue the permit by August 2023.
SaxaVord announced the news that they had been given a spaceport licence by the CAA via their website.
SaxaVord Spaceport Licence Greenlights 2024
The site on the small isle of Unst has now got the all-clear to start its launch operations in 2024, with the regulator verifying that the spaceport meets the required safety and environmental standards to carry out vertical space launches.
The site is privately-owned by Frank Strang and wife Debbie on the remote island. It is now licenced for up to 30 launches each year and will focus on companies who are looking to launch into polar, sun-synchronous orbits from the UK.
An impressive £30m has been spent on the development so far, which also has a hangar for the assembly of rockets, and there are already plans for launches as early as 2024. Rocket Factory Augsburg and HyImpulse have both earmarked SaxaVord for their launches.
CEO Frank Strang spoke about the news: “The award of our spaceport licence is both historic for Shetland, Scotland and the UK and places us firmly at the leading edge of the European and global space economy.
“As importantly for me it is also a fantastic achievement by our Operations and Licencing Team led by Scott Hammond who have been working tirelessly alongside the CAA for almost three years to secure this award.
“Our team is very proud that the Government has entrusted us with operating a complex, multi-disciplinary and multi-launch spaceport and we all take this responsibility very seriously.
“There is much to do still but this is a fantastic way to end the year and head into Christmas.”
Tim Johnson, director of space regulation at the CAA, said: “Granting SaxaVord their licence is an era-defining moment for the UK space sector.
“This marks the beginning of a new chapter for UK space as rockets may soon launch satellites into orbit from Scotland.
“We are undertaking vital work to make sure the UK’s space activities are safe and sustainable for all.”
We could see full orbital launches as early as 2025 from the spaceport. Nearby planned spaceports at Glasgow Prestwick and Spaceport Machrihanish will also be looking to follow in the footsteps of SaxaVord.