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Welcome to the third newsletter from Space Hub Sutherland. Thank you for signing up to receive our updates. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who may have an interest in the project. If you wish to receive paper copies to display or hand out, please email
Programme Update
Positive discussions continue with Melness Crofters Estate on the lease option.

We’re continuing to drive forward the complex programme of work that is required to build out the space hub. The programme integrates all activities required to take this project through the planning process including all environmental, safety and economic information.

Environmental surveys
Since we last reported in March 2019, we’ve continued to undertake environmental surveys which will inform the planning application.

During a recent survey, our surveyor came across a ewe stuck in the ground with a new lamb nearby. The surveyor managed to get the ewe moving and she was reunited with her lamb. There appeared to be no harm to either ewe or lamb.

Safety aspects of the site, launch and range services continue to be progressed to ensure all safety parameters are being considered. The safety of the site, as well as launchers and range controls, will be regulated by the appropriate statutory regulatory body, ensuring robust checks and enforcement.

Members of the project team continue to work on defining all the safety parameters. Representatives recently attended an event organised by UK Launch Services Ltd to discuss spaceport regulation. This work continues to develop as information is made available by the UK Space Agency and its regulatory bodies.

Understanding environmental impact
As a first step towards determining environmental impacts, HIE is now seeking agreement on the scope of environmental issues that will need to be examined. We are consulting with the Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Historic Environment Scotland, as well as a wide range of other interested parties. 

In line with the EU’s environmental impact assessment directive, HIE is proposing to examine potential impacts on the local area, specific habitats and the marine environment.
You can read our news release at


UK Space Agency (UKSA)
The UK Space Agency has launched a call for a share of £2m for future spaceports to support plans for small satellite launch from aircraft and sub-orbital flight from the UK. This call is based around horizontal launch and is not connected to the Sutherland site.
For more information see:

UKSA recently announced their intention to make available up to £20m for Spaceport Cornwall and US launch operator Virgin Orbit to develop facilities and operational capabilities that would enable horizontal launch from Cornwall in the early 2020s.

UK Space Industry Act
The Government issued a call for evidence on 27 March 2019 to see views on the liabilities, insurance and charging provisions of the Space Industry Act. The Government response to the call for evidence can be found at:

The UKSA’s website has been updated to provide information to help potential applicants who may wish to apply for a spaceport, range or launch licence under the Act. This includes a document entitled “Understanding the SIA (Space Industry Act)” which explains the provisions of the Act in further detail. See

Ahead of formal consultation on draft regulations and associated guidance, the UK Space Agency, Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority have begun a programme of plenary events to engage with the sector on the development of new legislation and future regulation under the Act.

Other information has also been updated on the UKSA’s website including:
  • 'Spaceports: keeping people safe' which outlines some key existing health and safety legal requirements that may need to be implemented by a spaceport. It also outlines a way that the risks to people near the launch and spacecraft flight path could be assessed to make sure that a spaceport location is acceptable when considering public safety. See
  • A short animation about UKSA’s ambitions to enable a world-leading market for regular, reliable and responsible access to space can be viewed online here.


We continue to develop the user requirements to allow safe launch from the Sutherland spaceport with our industry partners Lockheed Martin and Orbex. The launch service providers’ requirements are key to identifying a fit-for-purpose commercial space hub.


The Northern Times and the Press and Journal reported on fears expressed by 'Protect the Mhoine' that the Ministry of Defence might want to launch missiles from Sutherland. HIE rebutted this: “We are developing plans for Space Hub Sutherland as a vertical site for small satellites, and no other purpose.” The Ministry of Defence also confirmed they have no role in Space Hub Sutherland, saying: “We have no plans to use this site for missile launches.”
On 17 June, the media reported that a paper presented at a conference in Inverness had cast doubt on projections of 400 jobs being generated across the Highlands and Islands thanks to the space hub. HIE responded: “We commissioned an independent economic impact assessment as part of our due diligence. This concluded that Space Hub Sutherland had the potential to support 40 high quality jobs locally and 400 across the region.”
UK Space Agency stated: “The UK government’s £50m spaceflight programme is supporting a number of industry-led initiatives to build the capabilities that will launch the UK into the new space age. We awarded grant funding to Sutherland after conducting a rigorous assessment of 26 proposals.”
The Press and Journal reported that the academics’ claims were also contested by Orbex, which plans to create a range of technical and administrative jobs in Sutherland itself, and has already opened a new factory in Moray.


The next community engagements events are:
  • Thursday 11 July 2019: 3.30-8pm, Melness Community Centre
  • Thursday 15 August 2019: 3.30-8pm, Bettyhill Village Hall
Future dates for community engagement events are available on the website at:

Please note these dates could be subject to change.

Community feedback is important to us – we want to make sure we can address any issues you would like to raise to gain a full understanding of what the space hub means for Sutherland.


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