Highlands & Islands

Highlands suggested for satellite site's mission control

Concept art of Sutherland satellite launch site Image copyright Orbex
Image caption Concept art of the Sutherland launch site

The mission control for the first orbital satellite launch site in Europe could be located in the Highlands.

Plans to build the spaceport on the Melness Crofting Estate in Sutherland were announced last month.

Orbex, a company involved in the project, confirmed it was also looking at locations in Highlands for the mission control.

The firm's Chris Larmour said a factory would be built in Scotland for making the rockets for satellite launches.

He told BBC Scotland that the Highlands was one of the "contenders" for mission control. The launches would also be observed from the launch site.

'Beautiful site'

Mr Larmour and UK Business Secretary Greg Clark, who were both making a visit to the proposed launch site in Sutherland, said the north Highlands was the ideal place for sending small satellites into space.

Mr Clark said: "It is a fantastic, beautiful site.

"For a spaceport you want it to be in this kind of place for the orbits around the poles that are required.

"You also have the depth of skills in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, in satellites.

"Satellites are a growing market and in the UK already half of the small satellites in orbit today."

Mr Larmour said the satellites that would be launched from Sutherland would fly from north to south.

He said: "As our planet spins the satellites see the entire Earth over a period of four or five days, and that is really good for our customers because they want to do something called Earth observation, which is looking at crop patterns or pollution or the movement of ice."

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