As per Daniel Smith of Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSCL) and founder of space marketing firm AstroAgency, the business is growing. “Outside of California, Glasgow produces more satellites than anyplace else in the world, and Scotland is planning five space ports,” he continues. Unst in Shetland, North Uist in the Western Isles, Machrihanish in Argyll, the Moine peninsula in Sutherland, and Prestwick Airport situated in Ayrshire have all been mentioned as potential locations for human space missions by 2035.
Next year, several of the locations – Orbit Hub Sutherland in northwest Highlands, SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst, and Spaceport 1 in North Uist – might be regularly launching mini, micro, and pocket-sized nanosatellites into space. Orbex, a rocket manufacturer, has established its UK head offices in Forres, Moray, as part of the Space Hub Sutherland project. Several historic launches and rocket trials have already occurred in Scotland, where the rocket launches have been conducted since the 1930s.
The very first vehicle to be propelled into space from UK land was launched in 2016 from Hebrides Rocket Range, which is a military missile testing facility in the Western Isles.
Three years later, from SaxaVord Spaceport, a balloon designed to transfer tiny satellites into the orbit was tested. The balloon was launched 37 kilometers (23 miles) above the Earth’s atmosphere, making it the United Kingdom’s first commercial spaceflight operation.
Last year, the UK conducted its first complete land rocket test in 50 years.
Edinburgh-centered space technologies company Skyrora tested the 11m tall Skylark-L rocket at Kildermorie Estate near Alness in the Highlands. The rocket went through all of the steps of a launch while being held down to prevent it from going off.
Last month, East Anglian company Gravitilab Aerospace Services launched ADA, a “flight test vehicle,” from Benbecula Airport as a portion of the preparations to open Spaceport 1 at the Scolpaig North Uist in the year 2022.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, which is a Western Isles local authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, a public agency, and Melness Crofters’ Estate are all supporters of these projects. Dorothy Pritchard, the estate’s chairperson, believes that a spaceport in Sutherland will provide much-required skilled jobs for the young people in Highlands. The aim, she says, is to build the globe’s first working croft land as well as a carbon-neutral space center, adding that the “the close-knit crofting society, its gorgeous terrain, and native species have always been preserved.”