Space centre close to lift-off after £2m private equity boost
A satellite launch site and ground station will be built at Unst
Shetland Space Centre’s plan to build and operate the UK’s only satellite launch site has been given a major boost by a £2.05 million investment from international private equity firm Leonne International.
The cash injection, which gives Leonne a 20% stake in the business, will be used to help develop the site and ground station at the most northerly tip of Britain – the island of Unst in Shetland.
This was identified in the Sceptre Report, commissioned for the UK Space Agency, as the optimal location in the UK for launching small satellites into space, a rapidly growing sector of the international economy.
SSC’s integrated business model creates revenues from launch, ground and tourism.
The landowner and crofting community have recognised the benefits both locally and to Scotland and the UK and have agreed to lease the required land to the project. SSC does not anticipate any major environmental issues.
For the last two-and-a-half years SSC has been developing its plans and collaborating with space industry giants such as Lockheed Martin, Aecom and ArianeGroup.
It is also working closely with legitimate industry newcomers such as Rocket Factory Augsburg and Skyrora, the Edinburgh-domiciled Scottish Launch Provider, Raptor Aerospace, B2Space and C6 as well as Scottish Enterprise, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities and the Technical University of Munich.
SSC has also partnered with Goonhilly and the Cornwall Space Centre, ensuring the UK makes the most of its geography by having a space footprint at both its northern and southern tips. SSC is also working very closely with Faroese Telecom as it seeks to build relationships around the Arctic economy.
Frank Strang, CEO of Shetland Space Centre, said: “Mike Haston and his team at Leonne International bring tremendous enthusiasm, drive and belief to the business which will turbo charge an already dynamic and fast moving project.
Shetland is absolutely the right location for kick-starting the UK’s entry into this rapidly growing market– Frank Strang, SSC
“Importantly, the investment enables us to proceed with the first stages of gaining the necessary permissions and licences required to operate the facility and get on with building our launch site and ground station.
“Furthermore, the funding validates what we and, crucially, the wider space industry has been saying for several years now – that Shetland is absolutely the right location for kick-starting the UK’s entry into this rapidly growing market.”
Michael Haston, CEO, Leonne International, said: “We are always excited to partner with firms which exhibit ambition, innovation and excitement, and Shetland Space Centre exceeds this criteria with the plans they have in place for their satellite launch programme.
“With the help of the SSC, Shetland’s space economy is unique and will inevitably become a very valuable asset to the UK.”