Highland Council Approves Sutherland Spaceport Planning Application
The UK approves the launch site, which is a considerable step towards British rocket launch. The first mission is expected to take place in 2022, fifty years after the UK conducted its first and only orbital launch from Australia.
A new launch site for British rockets just got planning permission. This is a significant step forward for the UK space industry, which is on an upward trajectory. The UK plans to launch the first spacecraft from within its borders in 2022. This move is instrumental to the event.
On 26th June 2021, the North Planning Applications Committee of the Highland Council approved the development. The committee is in charge of deciding everything to do with the project, including the proposed location.
Plans had been submitted by the HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), who were waiting to hear back. The committee gave its approval, and now the development can move forward.
Proposed Launch Site in Scotland
The Space Hub Sutherland will be the first location for launching British rockets in the UK. This is after planning permission was granted back in June. The spaceport will be developed north of the country at the A’Mhoine Peninsula. Now the next step lies with the Scottish government. It’s responsible for deciding what comes next after the committee gives a green light for the project. The news had elicited a lot of enthusiastic responses from many people, including members of parliament.
The approval is a sign that space launches from the UK will take place soon. Jamie Stone, Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Caithness, Sutherland, and Easter Ross, hailed the move by the Highland Council as historic. He expressed his gratitude through a tweet saying the move would benefit many generations to come.
Approval for the spaceport was unanimous, even though the launch site is facing some opposition. At the time, the local authority in the area had 467 objections to the proposed development. This is after news of the submission went public back in February 2020.
However, there are 188 support comments. The objectors’ primary concern with the British rocket launch site was the environment and climate change. A protest group was formed to raise awareness called the Extinction Rebellion.
Some of the locals also shared similar concerns about the environment at the proposed site. The good news is the concerns didn’t fall on deaf ears. The committee considered them and put specific measures in place to protect the environment.
For instance, once the site is complete, it will only be permitted to conduct a dozen launches each year. Another restriction will see the launch site only have a 10-acre footprint despite 740 acres of land on the Peninsula.
Lastly, every launch, including those for the British satellite, will head north. This will mean flying over the North Sea toward the polar orbit. The project does pose some challenges to the environment, which is why such measures are necessary.
First British Rocket Launch Since 1971
Once the spaceport Sutherland is complete, it will host the first UK rocket launch since 1971. Fifty years ago, the UK conducted its first and only orbital launch from Australia.
In 2022, the UK will be in a position to launch a spacecraft from its soil. This has never been done before and is a significant boost for the UK space industry. Several British companies hope to achieve this as soon as possible.
From Sutherland, a UK rocket can reach polar orbit due to the effectiveness of the location. This is crucial because it’s the right place to deliver satellites in the sun-synchronous orbit. Here the satellite will manage to stay on Earth’s dayside perennially.
This will be the only launch site in Europe and a significant boost to the country’s economy. The planning permission’s approval is a step forward to making this a reality.
British rockets will launch satellites from Sutherland in 2022 if all goes well with the next steps. This will all take place under the watchful eye of the UK Space Agency (UKSA). UKSA is a significant part of the space sector and was set up back in 2010. Its primary role is overseeing the British Space Programme and budgets for different projects.
UKSA contributes to 9.9% of the European Space Agency (ESA) budget. Both have partnered on several projects, including the Skylon concept.
Apart from government support, the industry is also benefiting from a lot of commercial investments. Many companies are looking forward to conducting commercial launches from the UK. News about the council approval shows this will happen sooner rather than later.
British rockets will launch from the UK soon after the Highland Council’s planning application approval of the Sutherland spaceport. It’s a step in the right direction for the industry as it gears up for the first rocket launch from UK soil ever.
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