UK-based orbital launch services company, Orbex, is inviting the local community to participate in a series of consultation meetings regarding proposed changes to its spaceport in Sutherland. The sessions follow thesubmission of a Proposal of Application Notice (PoAN) to the Highland Council on 2nd November 2023. The first meeting is scheduled for 5th December 2023, at the Ben Loyal Hotel, Tongue, with sessions from 12 – 2 pm and 5 – 8 pm.
The proposed changes to Sutherland Spaceport aim to further reduce the environmental impact of the site’s construction and operation. These include a reduction in the size of the launch pad area, a decrease in the area of the access track that connects the launch pad to other parts of the spaceport, and adjustments to the footprint and height of the Launch Site Integration Facility (LSIF). The Antenna Park will also be relocated from the main spaceport site to an area adjacent to the existing telecommunications infrastructure on Ben Tongue, and the access track from the A838 to the Launch Site Integration Facility (LSIF) will be realigned.
These changes will make the building footprint smaller, leading to a reduction in peat disturbance and a lower impact on the groundwater ecosystem. The visual impact of the site will also be reduced, and there will be less disturbance to local watercourse crossings, with mammal migration paths widened to better preserve the natural environment. The proposed changes should also result in a shorter construction period and fewer vehicle movements.
The public consultation sessions will be held on the below dates in the Ben Loyal Hotel, Tongue:
5th December 2023, 12 pm – 2pm and 5 pm – 8pm
18th January 2023, 12 pm – 2pm and 5 pm – 8pm
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design and testing facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA and several commercial spaceflight organisations. The company is funded by the Scottish National Investment bank, two of the UK’s largest venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as strategic investors Elecnor, parent company of Deimos Space, and Jacobs, the largest services supplier to NASA. The company has won more than a dozen R&D contracts from a wide variety of bodies, including the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.