Tag Archives: Scotland

Environmentalist group opposes Scottish spaceport

An environmentalist group is working to organize opposition to the construction of a spaceport on an island in the Hebrides Islands.

The North Uist Conservation Group is concerned that the proposal would damage the coastal wilderness of Scolpaig, and tourism from nature lovers who visit the island to see otters, golden and white-tailed eagles, wading birds and the corncrake.

It is also worried about the impact on the nearby North Uist Machair, a designated Special Area of Conservation, and an area of peatland, which is a carbon sink. The RSPB bird reserve at Balranald is five kilometres from the proposed spaceport, it added.

They think a spaceport will hurt tourism? They might want to take a look at Florida in the U.S. If handled right, a spaceport will bring many more tourists to this very remote location.

As for the nearby wildlife and peat, they should take a look at Florida again. When the Kennedy Space Center was created the U.S. government also made the large surrounding territory, needed to remain undeveloped so that launches could occur safely, a gigantic wildlife preserve. That preserve has prospered magnificently in the ensuring decades, since the launches do it no harm.

Of course, these facts matter little. The people opposing this spaceport are, like the protesters in Hawaii that oppose TMT, not really interested in facts. Nor are they really interested in preserving anything. What really motivates them is the desire for power. If they aren’t in charge of something, then they must be given the power to prevent it.

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Landowners in Scotland sign lease for spaceport

The new colonial movement: The landowners for a planned commercial spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland, have now signed a 75-year lease with the spaceport developers.

Construction of the project is anticipated to begin next year with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) providing a grant of £2.5million to HIE, as well as funding two launch companies who will use the facility once it is operational.

I highlight the word “UK”, which stands for the United Kingdom, because that word indicates another very big unstated obstacle to this spaceport. The UK as a whole has voted to leave the European Union. The population of Scotland however voted against that exit, and its leaders have indicated that they will not go along with the plans of the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, to exit, deal or no deal. In fact, they have indicated that they would instead want to leave the United Kingdom in that case.

Should that happen, the future of this spaceport will be threatened. The deals that have made it possible have come from the UK space agency, a entity that Scotland would no longer belong should it leave the United Kingdom.

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Local opposition might delay UK spaceport

The United Kingdom’s first spaceport, proposed for the northern tip of Scotland, faces strong opposition from the local community as well as within the organization that owns the land.

The land is controlled by the Melness Crofting Estate (MCE), a company that represents about 56 local crofters. Three of its seven directors have resigned over how the plans have been handled.

George Wyper, one of those who stepped down, claimed that much of the community had been kept in the dark. In a ballot, 27 crofters voted to press ahead with talks to lease land to the spaceport while 18 voted against. Ten failed to vote and one ballot was rejected. Mr Wyper believes that important details were not shared. ‘Some people did not know what they were voting for,’ he said. ‘It’s getting quite vicious here — with Facebook and things. It’s causing a split in the community.’

He told the Highland Press & Journal: ‘There is quite a split in the community and a lot of bad feeling about this. It could go to the Scottish Land Court, which could take years to resolve.’

While in many ways some aspects of the opposition here reminds me of the opposition in Hawaii to the Thirty Meter Telescope, the difference is that that here it a large percentage of the landowners protesting. They have real standing, and thus are in a much stronger position to shut the spaceport down.

From what I can gather, the source of the problem here falls to the UK government, which apparently has done a very bad job in negotiating this deal.

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UK estimates its new spaceport could capture thousands of smallsat launches

Capitalism in space: Estimates by the United Kingdom’s space agency suggest that its new spaceport in Scotland could capture thousands of smallsat launches by the end of the 2020s.

Figures released … suggest that existing ‘rideshare’ small satellite launches (small satellites piggybacking on larger missions) are capable of meeting less than 35% of the total demand. This reveals a significant gap in commercial small satellite launch provision for which future UK spaceports are well placed to compete.

The press release also gives an update on the recent actions of the two smallsat rocket companies, Orbex and Lockheed Martin (in partnership with Rocket Lab), to establish operations in Scotland.

It remains to be seen whether these predictions will come true. Right now it appears that a giant boom in the smallsat industry is about to happen, and if it does the need for launchpads will become critical. If so, the policy shift in the UK to favor private spaceflight is arriving at just the right time.

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United Kingdom picks location in Scotland for spaceport

The British government, after years of study, has chosen a location in northern Scotland for its first homegrown spaceport.

In a statement issued in advance of the start of the Farnborough International Airshow, the U.K. Space Agency said it will provide initial funding of 2.5 million pounds ($3.3 million) to begin development of a vertical launch site in Sutherland, on the Atlantic coast in northern Scotland.

In its announcement, the agency said it selected the site “because Scotland is the best place in the U.K. to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.” The site would allow launches to the north, supporting spacecraft operating in sun-synchronous or other highly inclined orbits.

The announcement gave few details about the facility or indicated what company, or companies, would use it, but noted launches would begin there in the early 2020s. More information is expected to be announced July 16 at the air show.

This announcement contradicts a 2016 policy decision that had instead opened up spaceport licensing to whatever location wished to do it. Now the British government appears to have stepped in and picked this one site, though the article also says they are considering a second site for horizontal launches, using such systems as the Pegasus rocket, Stratolaunch, and LauncherOne.

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Great Britain’s proposed suborbital spaceport locations

The competition heats up: More information was released today describing Great Britain’s suggested spaceport locations.

These spaceports are specifically aimed at the suborbital space tourism market, for American companies like Virgin Galactic or XCOR, or for the developing British company Skylon.

It is interesting that 6 of 8 are located in Scotland, which might very well not be part of the United Kingdom after a vote on separation this fall.

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A spaceport for Great Britain?

The competition heats up: The government of the United Kingdom today outlined its intention to build its first spaceport by 2018.

The announcement listed eight potential sites, six of which were in Scotland, which is presently threatening to break away from the United Kingdom. This announcement I suspect is less a call for British space exploration and instead a political effort to encourage Scotland to remain in the UK.

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Archeologists may have found King Arthur’s round table in Scotland

Archeologists may have found King Arthur’s round table in Scotland.

The new survey — funded by Historic Scotland and Stirling City Heritage Trust — used the latest scientific techniques to showing lost structures and features up to a metre below the ground. It also revealed a series of ditches south of the main mound, as well as remains of buildings, and more recent structures, including modern drains which appear at the northern end of the gardens.

Mr Harrison, who has studied the King’s Knot for 20 years, said: “It is a mystery which the documents cannot solve, but geophysics has given us new insights. “Of course, we cannot say that King Arthur was there, but the feature which surrounds the core of the Knot could explain the stories and beliefs that people held.”

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