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SaxaVord plans launch rehearsal

May 23, 2022

SaxaVord Spaceport says it will mount a planned site-wide dress rehearsal which will culminate with a small rocket lifting off from their Lamba Ness site in Unst, Shetland, later this year.

The rehearsal is being done in preparation for the UK’s first commercial vertical space launch which continues.

The trial launch, named Operation Freya, will take place from a portable Asgard launch pad system, which will be erected on the Lamba Ness peninsula which is currently being prepared for the spaceport’s construction.

The purpose is to allow the SaxaVord operational team to simulate, practice and evaluate all the processes and procedures required for the much bigger launch vehicle required to reach orbit later this year.

The test rocket, which will be less than 3m tall, will reach 12,000 ft before it makes its descent. As it does so, a small parachute will be deployed, and the rocket will splash down into the sea.

SaxaVord has received endorsement from the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) Sceptre Report and formed industry-leading partnerships. It has also been chosen to host the UKSA’s UK Pathfinder launch, which will be delivered by Lockheed Martin and ABL Systems, in 2022.

To guarantee the launch process will be as realistic as possible, SaxaVord is involving all parties who are preparing for the first commercial launch later this year. To ensure every aspect is rehearsed correctly, the simulation will cover vehicle tracking, airspace and maritime safety and clearance methods, as well as practicing how best to recover payloads from the sea.

With a focus on carrying out checks on all safety procedures, SaxaVord Spaceport will engage with a wide range of authorities, including Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Scotland, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Scotland, Shetland Islands Council, Unst Community Council and local crofters and landowners. Local company Ocean Kinetics will also be involved in the recovery of the rocket.

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