Shetland Space Centre plans get £2m investment boost

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image copyrightShetland Space Centre
image captionUnst is Scotland's most northerly island

Plans to launch a space centre in Shetland have received a £2m investment boost, it has been revealed.

Shetland Space Centre (SSC) said private equity firm Leonne International's financial injection gave it a 20% stake in the business.

Unst is Scotland's most northerly island and is seen as a good project location because of its clear airspace.

SSC aims to have a fully operational satellite launch facility and ground operations centre by late 2021.

SSC chief executive Frank Strang said having Leonne International as a partner would help realise "the benefits of space exploration for the UK, and for Shetland's economy", bringing both jobs and visitors.

"The funding validates what we and, crucially, the wider space industry has been saying for several years now - that Shetland is absolutely the right location for kick-starting the UK's entry into this rapidly growing market," he said.

Balloon success

Michael Haston, Leonne International chief executive, said: "We are always excited to partner with firms which exhibit ambition, innovation and excitement, and Shetland Space Centre exceeds this criteria with the plans they have in place for their satellite launch programme."

In July, the test launch of a balloon in Shetland for a system that can deliver small satellites into orbit was hailed a success.

SSC joined forces with B2Space, a Bristol-based firm which developed the stratospheric balloon launch system known as rockoon.

The launch - described as the UK's first commercial spaceflight-related activity - saw the balloon soar 37km (23 miles) to the edge of the earth's atmosphere.

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