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Innovation grant for Shetland rocket launch evaluation

Published: 26/08/2019

A project to evaluate the suitability of Shetland as a location to launch rockets using air balloons has been awarded a £15,000 innovation grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Shetland Space Centre (SSC) has been working with B2Space, a company that offers access to low earth orbit for small and micro satellites.

In July they ran a test of a system known as rockoon, which deploys large air balloons to launch rockets from the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.

The HIE funding will go towards the commercial and technical evaluation of using the system in Shetland. This includes assessing the current facilities and development plans and providing recommendations as to how such operations might be best hosted at the Shetland Space Centre.

John MacKenzie, senior development manager with HIE, said:

“This is an ambitious and innovative project by the SSC. We are very pleased to be providing support for the commercial and technical evaluation and look forward to the findings of this work.”

SSC was formed in 2017 and employs five people. The firm is working towards securing planning permission for a satellite launch facility at Unst.

It is working with the local community and Shetland Islands Council to ensure minimum impact and maximum benefit from what could be a major new sector of the local economy.

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