Shetland Islands spaceport approved as Llanbedr awaits operational date

Another UK spaceport has been approved as plans for a facility in Wales still lack a timetable.

Shetland Isles Council has approved a request from SaxaVord UK Spaceport to place three private launch pads aimed at sending small satellites into low Earth orbit.

The Lamba Ness site in Unst will see an investment of £43 million with up to thirty launches planned each year.

The spaceport will be the first of its kind to launch its rockets vertically, with Spaceport Cornwall appearing to be the first to launch its craft by horizontal means, a similar method proposed for the spaceport in Wales.

Spaceport Cornwall, with the help of Sir Richard Branson, will use Newquay Airport to fly Virgin Orbit’s modified 747-400 aircraft which, after reaching sufficient altitude, will horizontally launch a rocket carrying a satellite into space .

It is hoped that in 2022 two such launches can be made.

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Snowdonia Spaceport, located at Llanbedr Airfield in Gwynedd, remains intended to house Spaceport Wales, but unlike its counterparts, is still awaiting a definitive timetable for when the Spaceport will become operational.

According to the Aero Society, the world’s only professional body dedicated to the space community, it was hoped that the first sub-orbital flights could take place over Cardigan Bay between 2022 and 2025.

In September 2019, the agency announced £500,000 funding for the Spaceport for both space research and horizontal satellite launch.

The Welsh government is also said to have given an additional £135,000 to the project to also expand research and launch satellites and drones.

Across the UK, there are seven sites nominated for spaceports, all at different stages of development.

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