Major Project - Space - Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership

Creation of a facility on the Moine, North Sutherland to launch small payload (<500kg) satellites.

Major Project - Space

The project arose from interest shown by the satellite launch industry in establishing a facility in Northern Europe that best meets the needs of the manufacturers and operators of modern, small space launch vehicles (<500kg payload) to launch their customer’s satellites into low earth polar and sun-synchronous (500-700km altitude) orbits. To achieve this safely, operators require access to a north-facing launch  site and related facilities overlooking the open ocean. Companies would pay to use the facility on a per-launch basis. Such a facility will provide local and economic development opportunities, whilst also achieving UK  government aspirations of capturing 10% of the multi-billion pound satellite market over the next decade.

 

In July 2018, The UK Space Agency (UKSA)  agreed that the optimal location of the Moine in Sutherland, combined with the commitment of 2 Launch Service Providers (LSPs – Lockheed Martin and Orbex)  was the best solution to address the opportunity. This is therefore currently the only launch site in the UK that will be supported by the state. HIE has also confirmed a multi-million funding package for the project.

Lockheed Martin have provided a promotional video:

https://youtu.be/TTzqW5mU7ao

 

This will not be a large “Cape Canaveral” type facility. These are small launch vehicles approximately 19m high that arrive in freight transport containers. For an idea of the scale, this video shows one of the potential launch vehicles, the Electron, and one of the rotating pictures below shows a current launch site.

https://youtu.be/R0mHSTY10S4

Strategic geographical location of the area to the market.

“Access to low earth polar sun-synchronous orbits”

  • Moine launch facilities and supporting infrastructure

Direct and Indirect job predictions and timescales are as follows:

Launch Site ∼ 400 direct employment  (40 at the site) plus local and regional value expansion
Timescale – job realisation 5 years
Timescale – investment 2 years

Establishing the facility will create short term construction jobs, with the associated benefit to local and regional accommodation, food and drink suppliers. In the short term, the permanent (direct) operational workforce for the facility will be small, with the greatest impact arising from associated support, particularly during launch periods. This is expected to change over time as the number of launches expand and additional LSPs might utilise the facility. The anticipated growth in high value jobs goes well beyond the launch site, however the Highland Region and local economy is expected to benefit in the value chain expansion, supporting the commercial Launch Services Providers (LSP) and satellite technology market. The value chain is associated with all those manufacturing, testing, support, services and goods being supplied from existing and potentially new companies.
 
Interested? Like to find out more about the jobs and skills necessary to work in this market. Click here and go to Skills Development Scotland’s website My World of Work.

Activity Job

Direct and Indirect job predictions and timescales are as follows:

Launch Site ∼ 400 direct employment  (40 at the site) plus local and regional value expansion
Timescale – job realisation 5 years
Timescale – investment 2 years