Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)
INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — The latest generation of small communications satellites could be launched into Earth orbit from the northern Highlands of Scotland within the next two years.
Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has submitted a planning application for a vertical launch site, Space Hub Sutherland, that it plans to construct on the A’ Mhoine peninsula, Melness, near Tongue.
If the application is approved, construction on Europe’s first vertical launch site could begin later this year, with launches starting as early as 2022.
In time, up to 12 launches a year could be made from Sutherland, carrying small, commercial satellites that will typically be used for Earth observation.
An economic impact assessment submitted with the planning application estimates that developing the space hub would create around 61 high quality jobs in Caithness and Sutherland, an area where the population is falling and unemployment levels are above average.
Forty-four of these jobs would be in Melness and Tongue. Skills required on-site will include mechanical and electrical engineering, weather monitoring, control room operations, ground services, security, management and marketing.
A total of around 250 well-paid jobs are expected to be generated ...