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Welcome to the second 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


Procurement activities
Since December, the HIE project team’s focus has been on procurement of a range of specialists whose professional expertise will help us drive the project forward.
  • In January, HIE appointed Gardiner and Theobald (G&T) to provide professional services. G&T will support the delivery of HIE’s programme with services including project management, cost management, procurement and other specialist services.
  • As part of this contract, G&T are working with Nevis Environmental who are carrying out vital environmental studies to inform our planning application.
  • In February, we awarded a contract to Norr to provide design services which will allow the design of the spaceport to continue, taking on board user requirements from the launch service providers.
  • In March, we contracted EY to undertake commercial modelling and financial due diligence to support the acquisition of the Launch Site Operator.
We’ve welcomed two new members to our busy project team. David Howie will oversee programme delivery and Michelle Sutherland is joining us to provide administrative support on 1 April 2019.

Programme update
We’re continuing to drive forward the complex programme of work that is required to build out the space hub. Current areas of focus include further environmental surveys and work on the regulatory framework to ensure all safety parameters are considered. The programme is geared towards first launch taking place in the early 2020s.

Environmental surveys
Since January, we’ve been working on environmental surveys, including:
  • Wintering geese (foraging)
  • Non-breeding bird (moorland bird)
  • Breeding eagles
  • Breeding white-tailed eagle
  • Peat (initial assessment)
  • Topographic (initial assessment)
Further bird surveys are planned from March to September 2019. An otter/water vole survey is scheduled around Easter.


UK Space Agency (UKSA)
UKSA has launched a new webpage dedicated to LaunchUK, the country’s commercial spaceflight programme. This provides a range of guidance including;
  • the Outer Space Act 1986 and how this fits into the Spaceflight Programme;
  • understanding the Space Industry Act 2018; and
  • the size and health of the UK space industry.
The site will be updated regularly and can be found at:
Four companies were awarded grant funding to develop commercial range control services. 
Earlier this month, UKSA confirmed that four organisations have been awarded over £350,000 in grants to develop commercial range control services at spaceport sites across the country. See here for the UK Government news release.

UKSA and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres have joined forces to select 13 science centres and museums across the UK to bring the latest space science to families and schoolchildren. The 13 UK science centres and museums in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will deliver all these specially created space activities to over 200,000 children and adults in their regions from this summer until March 2021. For further details:

Lockheed Martin Space Systems (LMSS)
LMSS representatives took part in the “Jobs and How to Get Them” event in Golspie on 22 January, providing details of career opportunities on the Space Hub programme. The company has a desire to recruit local apprentices/technicians.

Representatives from LMSS also supported HIE at the community engagement session in Melness Community Centre on 31 January. This was a really positive and well-attended session, with a strong focus on safety and environmental issues.
Scotland’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, officially opened the new Orbex manufacturing plant in Forres on 7 February.
Orbex recently purchased this facility and plans to hire 40 staff this year increasing this to 150 over time. Several new employees have already started working in the new facility.
At the opening ceremony, the company unveiled the second stage of the Prime launcher, which will be built in Moray and is expected to launch from Sutherland, where some operational staff will also be based.
Earlier in the same week, Chris Larmour, Chief Executive of Orbex, had visited Tongue where he took the opportunity to discuss space opportunities with primary school pupils and a range of local residents.


On 14 March 2019, Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee led a debate in the Scottish Parliament, outlining the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to introduce at least one spaceport by the early 2020s. This was a high-profile event for the country’s emerging space sector, and MSPs from across Scotland took the opportunity to highlight opportunities in their constituencies and at national level. The debate can be viewed in full here on the Scottish Parliament website and you can also read a full transcript here


We’ve been stepping up our efforts to keep local people informed of progress, and answer your questions. Recent activities include:
  • The HIE project team now holds a weekly drop-in session in the Kyle Centre, Tongue. This is every Wednesday, from 10am to 1pm. Please call in if you’re nearby and want to speak to the project team on a one-to-one basis.
  • We’re providing regular written updates to the Tongue Community Council.
  • Community drop-in sessions have been held at Melness Community Centre and in Thurso, Tongue and Wick.
You can find dates for future sessions online at by clicking the community engagement tab. The next scheduled events are:
  • 14 May 2019:  Skerray Village Hall
  • 15 May 2019:  Kinlochbervie
From our discussions at the community engagement sessions we understand the majority of questions raised are focused on safety and environment. Safety will always be the number one priority for the spaceport. Questions have been raised on environmental impacts and we are committed to go well beyond being environmentally compliant, and looking at innovative ways of mitigating and reducing any impacts that are identified.


Community feedback is important to us – we want to make sure we can address any questions or issues you would like to raise to gain a full understanding of what the space hub means for Sutherland.  See below for answers to some recent questions we’ve received. 

We continue to receive questions relating to the project and will ensue that issues raised are addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment report that will form part of our planning application. 

Before we submit our planning application towards the end of 2019, Highland Council will implement a 12-week consultation period.


What is the total length of the vehicle required to get the launcher to the spaceport?
Typically, the launcher will be transported on an articulated truck in two 40-foot shipping containers designed, manufactured, tested and certified to international standards (ISO). This vehicle will be similar in total length to the logging trucks which are already a daily sight on our roads.  
We expect that fuel will be delivered in a mid-size road tanker, similar to those that serve petrol stations, with two deliveries per launch campaign. Customer satellite loads are most likely to be delivered in a vehicle the size of a transit van.
What tonnage are the vehicles that will carry the rocket sections to the site?
The launcher only weighs a couple of tonnes. The wagon will be very lightly loaded compared to a loaded logging truck (around 15% by weight). We estimate that each loaded container will be around 4,000 kg.
What extra exclusion will apply during launches?
We are currently in discussion with the regulatory body (UKSA) to understand the requirements for the exclusion area. We anticipate that a safety area from the site will cover an area north and heading in a northerly direction over the sea area. It is expected that the safety area will only be in force for a short period of time when launches are taking place.
What happens to satellites in orbit that are no longer in use?
Requirements now include that satellites have to de-orbit within 25 years of end of life. 
What is the maximum payload of satellites that could be launched with a Lockheed Martin launcher?
LMSS’s plan is for payloads around 150kg.


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