UKs First Vertical Launch Spaceport Licensed, Ushering New Era for Space Industry


SaxaVord Spaceport has reached a pivotal moment in UK and Western European history, securing the first licence for vertical space launches. The Civil Aviation Authority has conducted thorough assessments to ensure SaxaVord meets the required safety, security, and environmental standards, as well as possessing the necessary infrastructure and services.

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport, celebrates the licence as a monumental success for Shetland, Scotland, and the UK, crediting the Operations and Licensing Team for their relentless effort over nearly three years to achieve this milestone.

Scotland Poised to Lead European Launch Market

With this licence, Scotland is set to become a frontrunner in the European launch market. The spaceport, which already has a lineup of clients including prestigious names like Lockheed Martin and Skyrora, could soon see Scottish-built rockets launching Scottish satellites into orbit.

SaxaVord Spaceport’s licence allows for up to 30 launches per year, signalling a bright future for the spaceport and the UK’s rapidly growing space sector.

Tim Johnson, Director of Space Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, describes the licensing of SaxaVord as an era defining moment, with the UK on the brink of launching satellites from Scottish soil. The CAA pledges to ensure the safety and sustainability of UK space activities.

With the licence in hand, SaxaVord will be under continuous monitoring by the CAA to maintain safety and adhere to the terms of the licence. This step is part of the CAA’s broader role in overseeing more than 750 satellites and regulating the UK’s space activities.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper anticipates that SaxaVord’s development as the UK’s first vertical spaceport will stimulate Shetland’s economy and position the UK as a leader in spaceflight innovation.

UK Space Industry Skyrockets in Value and Jobs

The UK’s burgeoning space industry, valued at £17.5 billion and supporting nearly 49,000 jobs, is a dynamic segment of the national economy. With over 2,200 space companies based in the UK, the sector’s growth shows no signs of slowing down.

Following the recent £3.4 million funding from the UK Space Agency for HyImpulse UK, the industry is abuzz with anticipation for the upcoming launches from SaxaVord Spaceport, poised to elevate the UK’s status in the European space market.

Richard Lochhead MSP, Scottish Innovation Minister, envisions Scotland as a space gateway, with SaxaVord’s licence marking a significant step towards Scotland’s ambition to become a leading space nation in Europe. The focus is on economic development, climate crisis solutions, and inspiring innovation.

SaxaVord is dedicated to environmental responsibility, establishing the Space Environment Climate Control Centre, SaxaZero, to monitor and mitigate the spaceport’s environmental impact. This initiative will also promote satellite data usage for conservation and help companies reduce costs and emissions.

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