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Shetland Space Centre


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^Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier has been chairman of Shetland Space Centre’s advisory board since 1 October 2020. According to his register of members’ interests the role takes up approximately 10 hours per month, equating to £250 an hour, and in addition he “may receive share options”.

Sez it all, dunnit:roll:

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  • 11 months later...

Did you see the story that someone thinks the Space Centre is scaring people from staying in Unst or Shetland. Thinks that it will make us a target for Putin.

(Along with the oil terminal and military software around the place, and the fact we’re strategically placed at the gateway to the North Atlantic. Does anyone know if this has happened, or is it the cost of heating houses?   

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  • 5 months later...

Recent Unst Community Council minutes make for interesting reading. The last minutes available are from 08/12/2022, nothing in last 4 months:

SaxaVord SpacePort(SVSP)

Frank Strang replied to the list of questions which were compiled and sent after the last Community Council meeting. These questions and answers are attached as an appendix to the minutes. The Community Council expressed their thanks to Mr Strang for answering all the questions as this helped to clarify many of the questions which are being asked by the community.

There was a discussion about the Space Port and its progress.

A letter from a member of the community was received and circulated before this meeting. The letter outlined a range of concerns which are being “echoed by many, many local people.” The concerns highlighted are the “lack of communication on progress, on setbacks, on investment, on key players, on new infrastructure.” They believe there seems to be a news blackout on everything except for what they read in the paper, or online news. That is what the Spaceport wants us to know.

Concerns were also outlined about the state of the roads which they say,are disintegrating, mud makes the Setters hazardous, many windscreens have been chipped by rock-loaded heavy trucks travelling too fast and ferries are difficult to book because of massive freight trucks.” The correspondent believes there should be a public meeting so that the community has an opportunity to get the latest position on the project, which is massive especially in a small place like Unst.

Councillors discussed this and several of them are being told by the community that they feel there is definitely a lack of communication about what is happening. And in a small place like Unst there are always various rumours about what is and isn’t happening. Michael (Duncan, Community Council Liaison Officer) declared an interest in this item as a family member works for the Space Centre, so he could take no part in any discussion about it. He did advise the Community Council to contact members of the Council if there were any queries about the work done so far; planning; roads; infrastructure etc.

Members were told that there is a newsletter being compiled just now which will be available in the next week or so. There was a debate as to whether this would be an online newsletter or a mail shot. Members believe that if it is only available online many residents will not have access to it. Patrick is happy to carry on as the UCC liaison with the Space Centre and contact Frank Strang to ask for a progress report before the next Community Council Meeting. If he gets nowhere with this,he will take it back to the next meeting in January.


Edited by FreeUnst
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Last time I went up to Skaw the road was barely a collection of poorly patched potholes and craters past Norwick, not been up since December so who knows what they look like now. When you think that you can't get PP for a track to join a road without it being 6m of tarmac due to the danger of stone chips, makes you wonder how they got PP allowing them to destroy the road.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

UCC Minutes 05/06/23

SaxaVord Space Port (SAXA)

Frank Strang, CEO,  gave an update on their progress.  He said work had begun 14 months ago and, in that time, they had spent 30 Million pounds, none of which has come from the public purse.  The Civil Aviation Authority has completed an audit for the Space Port Licence and have said that SaxaVord is leading the way, by about two years.  Mr Strang believes they should get the Space Port licence in about 8 weeks time. [NB it is more than 8 week now] Once this happens, he said that the eyes of the world will be on Unst.  They are still planning to have 30 launches a year.  Each actual launch lasts about 40 seconds. The Space Port needs to be a sustainable business.  Mr Strang was asked how often they needed to apply for licences.  He explained that licences carry on perpetually, but that the Space Port is constantly audited and monitored.  Licences can be taken away if they don’t pass arduous, rigorous assessments.  Mr Strang said that the Range licence should be awarded 6 to 8 weeks after the Space Port one.   The first Suborbital launch is planned for the beginning of October, this will be done by HyImpulse.  This will be an historic moment.  The next launch will be an Orbital one in the spring next year.  This will be the first launch in UK/Europe.  The next launch will be by Lockheed Martin. Mr Strang explained that the SaxaVord STEM programme had reached 250,000 children online. He hoped the programme might reach 1 million by Christmas.  The Secretary of State for Transport and his team will be visiting the Space Port in August.  There have also been inquiries from the 1st Minister’s Office as well.  Mr Strang said that there will be a lot of media representatives in Unst this week. He explained that the architect’s design for the new accommodation will be going out to community engagement shortly.  He is happy with the design and believes there is nothing controversial in it.  They are spending 80 – 100 million pounds developing the site.  Mr Strang said they had secured £139 million debt facility to drive the project forward. This will include spending money on the airport, runway and hangar. The three main streams for the Space Port are 1) Launches, 2) Tourism/Accommodation and 3) Data.  The Space Port have applied to the European Space Agency for £10 million pounds.  Mr Strang explained that they are working with Faroese Telecom.  He believes it is essential to get good connectivity and hope this might get Government funding into Shetland.  Mr Strang was asked if all their funding so far was from ethical sources.  Mr Strang said that it was important that the funding came from ethical sources, and subsequently Mr Strang commented that as a part of the Licencing process the UK Government carries out due diligence on the source of the Spaceport funding and if there were doubts as to the efficacy of the funding a licence would not be awarded.  He was asked about the exclusion zones for launches.  He said that it was 2.4 kilometres from the launch site and that the conditions need to be 30 knots or less of wind.  All launch dates and times will be well publicised.  Each of the launch pads are for different companies.  If a rocket doesn’t work the launch pad will be out of commission for 6 to 7 months.  If it went on fire, it would be left to burn out.  Mr Strang explained that they need multiple clients to make SVSP viable.  There is an emergency response team and there has already been exercises with the various different agencies. He said that if the airport becomes active again there might need to be a small fire brigade crew employed.  Mr Strang was asked how the tarring was going.  He said that it was almost complete.  They will be tarring all the way down the Holsens Brae.  They need to get the legalities sorted before they can start on the North Dale stretch of road. The Hangar is being constructed just now.  They are three quarters of the way through the building work. SVSP is working with Chris Dyer, archaeologist, on the interpretation facility.  Mr Strang said that SVSP now has 80 employees.  He explained that one of the things that will be launched in the satellites will be experiments from Life Sciences/Medical Companies.  SVSP might look at building a small lab so that this information can be analysed here.  There was a lot of discussion about accommodation and housing issues.  Mr Strang said that their staff accommodation would be at Saxavord and would not impact on Unst: they will not be looking for accommodation away from Saxavord.  There is a shortage of affordable housing on Unst. There was also a discussion about the lack of childcare.  Families with children under 3 and no family to help out are struggling to stay here.  Mr Strang said that they were all for helping where they could with childcare and would be happy to speak to anyone interest in setting up a childcare facility.  He said that SVSP is hosting an Open Day during UnstFest, they will put on food, entertainment and a minibus for people who want to see the site.  Claire asked if there were any more questions for Mr Strang.  There weren’t.  She thanked him for the update, before he left the meeting.

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On 17/08/2023 at 20:00, European spaceflight said:

Was this taken on a week day? There doesn't seem to be a lot of activity going on.

With that question you may have heard something, as there's no one up there at the moment as all the construction people have gone off site. The local rumour mill has it there's some "financing" issue and a bond of some description is being waited upon.

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