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SaxaVord Spaceport, Spaceport Cornwall latest

May 10, 2022

Scotland’s SaxaVord Spaceport has announced a new partnership with Astra Space. Not to be outdone, Spaceport Cornwall at the other end of the UK has enjoyed the British government confirm that it will handle its first satellite launch this summer.

Nasdaq-listed Astra, whose mission is to improve life on earth from space, successfully completed its first commercial rocket launch from Kodiak in Alaska. It says it plans to move from monthly to weekly launches in the US and Europe over the next two years.

The agreement will see the Scottish spaceport and the US launch provider formalises a long-term collaboration with Unst, Scotland, firmly at the centre of plans. The partnership aims to develop a cost effective and adaptable rocket launch programme to service the European market for small satellites, says a statement.

“This agreement between SaxaVord Spaceport and Astra is great news for Shetland and represents another step towards our shared ambition of bringing vertical launch satellite capability to Scotland,” said Ivan McKee, Scottish Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise. “Companies like this are vital to achieving the aims of our National Strategy for Economic Transformation that will support a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators in areas like small satellite technology and Scotland’s growing space industry.”

With its flexible, mobile approach, Astra can transport and connect a fully functional launch system to a simple concrete pad for launches. SaxaVord UK Spaceport would expand Astra’s capacity at key inclinations. Together, they are expected to accelerate access to space for customers launching in the UK, the statement adds.

“Astra is an agile, fast-moving company on pace to establish a successful track record,” said Robin Huber, Director of Business Development at SaxaVord UK Spaceport. “We look forward to working with their team to build new launch capabilities in the UK. Their mission to improve life on Earth from space is closely aligned with our own values, and we believe that this exciting new relationship will develop into a strong, lasting partnership.”

“The additional inclinations, flexibility and launch capacity that this partnership enables will allow us to meet the needs of Astra’s customers and align directly with SaxaVord UK Spaceport’s economic investment and environmental goals,” said Matt Ganser, VP/Business Operations at Astra. “We are excited to work with this partner to open another spaceport from which we would hope to meet the growing demand for dedicated launch out of the UK.”

As for the Spaceport Cornwall news, the UK’s Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin has announced that In-Space Missions Ltd, based in Hampshire, and designed with Airbus Defence and Space, will launch a pair of small satellites (Prometheus-2) on a programme which is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) this summer.

Two shoebox-sized Cubesats will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our allies, stated the press release.

The Cubesats will be carried on Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket which takes off horizontally from a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl. They will operate in low Earth Orbit, around 550km above the Earth and 50-100km apart at 17,000mph.

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