SaxaVord Spaceport Awarded First Vertical Launch Licence in the UK and Western Europe

SaxaVord Spaceport has been granted its vertical launch licence by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), marking a significant milestone as it is the first vertical launch spaceport in both the UK and Western Europe.

SUMMARY

  • First Launch Expected In Q1/Q2 2024
  • CAA Issues SaxaVord Spaceport UK & Western Europes First Vertical Launch Licence
  • SaxaVord Spaceport Approved For Up To 30 Launches Per Year

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Published: 17th Dec 2023 18:50 GMT
Written by: Zac Aubert

In a historic moment for the UK, SaxaVord Spaceport has been granted its vertical launch licence by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), marking a significant milestone as it is the first vertical launch spaceport in both the UK and Western Europe.

The detailed assessment and now license being granted by the CAA signals that SaxaVord Spaceport has meet the stringent safety, security, and environmental criteria, as well as established the presence of suitable infrastructure and services for vertical space launches.

“The award of our spaceport licence is both historic for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK, placing us firmly at the leading edge of the European and global space economy. Our team is very proud that the Government has entrusted us with operating a complex, multi-disciplinary, and multi-launch spaceport.” - Frank Strang, SaxaVord's CEO

The licence positions SaxaVord at the forefront of the European launch market, with a client roster that includes Rocket Factory Augsburg, HyImpulse, Lockheed Martin/ABL Systems, and Skyrora. The approval also allows SaxaVord to host up to 30 launches annually, facilitating growth in tandem with the expanding UK space sector.

Tim Johnson, Director of Space Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, says this moment is "era-defining" for the UK space sector, paving the way for rockets to potentially launch satellites into orbit from Scotland. An ongoing monitoring program by the CAA will ensure safety is maintained and license terms are upheld.

 “Today’s historic announcement will boost Shetland’s economy and put the United Kingdom at the forefront of spaceflight innovation.” -  Mark Harper, Transport Secretary

The UK space industry is growing everyday and is now estimated to be worth £17.5 billion, while supporting over 48,800 jobs, with more than 2200 space companies based in the UK.

SaxaVord's launch licence follows the UK Space Agency's recent announcement of £3.4 million in funding for HyImpulse UK, a Shetland-based launch company.

“Getting to this stage is testament to the hard work by SaxaVord Spaceport and partners across government which moves us towards realizing our ambitions for the UK to be the leading provider of small satellite launch in Europe by 2030.” - Matt Archer, Director of Launch at the UK Space Agency

Scottish Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead MSP emphasized the importance of the milestone, saying, “This milestone heralds a new era for space in Scotland,” as SaxaVord and Scotland aim to become a gateway to space, deploying cutting-edge small satellites into orbit.

SaxaVord is not only advancing space exploration but is also establishing the Space Environment Climate Control Centre, known as SaxaZero. This initiative aims to promote responsible practices in the space industry by monitoring the spaceport’s impact on the natural environment and advocating for innovation in space industry sustainability.SaxaZero will also encourage the use of satellite data in conservation and by companies seeking to understand their impact on nature, lowering costs and emissions in the process.

SaxaVord Spaceport is expected to conduct its first launch in Q1/Q2 of 2024. 

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