UK's First Vertical Rocket May Launch Ahead of Schedule at SaxaVord Spaceport

UK Officials have said that construction of SaxaVord Spaceport, or the location where the country’s first vertical rocket will launch beginning next year, is progressing ahead of schedule.

Progress Report

Based on a report by Evening Standard, the first concrete platform for a launch pad was finished this month at the SaxaVord Spaceport in Lamba Ness on the island of Unst, Shetland.

Fredo and Elizabeth, two of the three launchpads that were authorized, are now being established during the first phase of construction. Calum, the last launchpad, will be constructed during the second phase.

The first structure is now undergoing preparation work to house rockets’ assembly and integrates small satellite payloads intended for low Earth, sun-synchronous, or polar orbits.

The testing of rocket stages is scheduled to commence sometime at the beginning of 2023.

Words from CEO

Frank Strang, the chief executive officer of SaxaVord Spaceport, made the following statement, “Our progress has been phenomenal, despite major constraints and significant challenges on a daily basis.”

According to him, as reported by Evening Standard, this is a credit to the enormous efforts that their spaceport team has put forth.

The crew members he is referring to include primary contractor DITT, and sub-contractors such as Unst Plant, a local firm founded particularly to work on the project.

Strang added that more significant space history would be created in Shetland next spring and summer, with the first vertical sub-orbital launches from the UK, followed by vertical orbital flights later in the year.

He said that the UK would be firmly established on the world spaceflight stage as a result of this, in addition to the much-awaited horizontal launch from Cornwall.

“We now have seven clients all vying for launch windows – and the good news is that we are ahead of schedule, meaning 2023 is going to be a hugely exciting year,” Strang remarked.

The Spaceport Cornwall in southwest England that Strang mentioned will host the first British orbital launch.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) awarded Newquay Airport a spaceport license last week. The UK Space Agency said it met statutory criteria on safety, security, environment, and other elements.

Horizontal space launches using an aircraft as the rocket’s first stage are now possible from the specified spaceport.

The Project

Construction work on the site began at the end of March of this year, and more than sixty individuals are already employed there.

To date, a total of £19 million ($23 million) that was generated privately has been spent on the project. Of this amount, £9 million ($11 million) has been spent on upgrading public roads leading from the neighborhood of Haroldswick all the way up to the 81-hectare property.

This month, the British CAA opened a consultation to hear people’s thoughts on the environmental impact report that SaxaVord had prepared for the spaceport.

The deadline for submissions is set for Dec. 8.

Related Story: University Students Create a Human-Powered Aircraft With No Engines

Written by Trisha Kae Andrada

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