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Sutherland spacetrack - Could Scotland House spacetrack Be Used For Commercial Applications?

by Terry Smith (2021-07-19)

The Sutherland spaceport, also referred to as UKVL Sutherland or Space Hub, is to be the country's first spaceline. It is to be located at Cumbria in England. It will be operated by a private commercial entity and will employ forty staff. The spacepacestation will launch a space launch vehicle known as Orbex Prime into low Earth orbit. It will then dock with the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth for a one-way trip.

The spacepacestation is intended to stimulate a new space industry in Cumbria. The chief economic impact is the development of new industries within the Cumbrian countryside, the local transport infrastructure and the creation of a new national economy. It is to contribute to Scotland's economic development by ensuring a supply of space launches. It is also intended to create hundreds of jobs in the commercial sector in Cumbria and at Skyrora, the only spaceline servicing company based in the entire Cumbrian countryside. All this is going to have an environmental impact claim worked into it at a later date.

A spaceport is a facility that enables manned space flights. It comprises an aircraft carrier which is used to transport astronauts to and from the launch locations. There are also two small satellite stations which are to support small satellites that are launched from orbit. This means that any launches from the Sutherland spaceports will be carrying small satellites that are meant for putting into space. However, these launches are being limited to less than a dozen for the time being.

It was to be expected that there would be a mix of different types of launches from the spaceports. One would be telecommunications satellite launches, such as those from SBSat 1 and SBSat 2. There will be launches from geosynchronous transfer orbit, medium-range satellites and eventually from a global positioning system. The goal is to connect the whole of Scotland through this Scottish space sector, but so far, it appears that only a few launches each year from each of the four operational centers in Scotland will be made.

This all changed in October when plans were presented for a dedicated S Sutherland racetrack. This dedicated center is to support and develop the new world-class constellation of small satellites called the Sats. The first phase of this new initiative is to use a Loral/OUTSat 6 launch to put the Sats into orbit around the equator. This is to test the locking methods that are necessary to position these small satellites in a synchronous orbit around the Earth. It also aims to increase the capabilities of the existing Loral and OTS satellites. Only one successful launch of an Satsatsats-type from a Loral/OUTSat 6 is planned.

A second phase of development is expected to test the ability of the new LEO satellites to place communications satellites in geostationary transfer orbit around the Earth. This is to build on the experience gained with the first racetrack at S Sutherland racetrack in Scotland. The third phase is to develop the technology needed to place telecommunications satellites in polar or extra-terrestrial orbit. Launching communications satellites into these polar or other high-Earth orbit is believed to reduce the cost of communications in future years.

A fourth phase is yet to be determined. It is hoped that by using a Scotland based Satsat provider that a new way of doing business in Scotland could be opened up. The provider could then provide services from Scotland to places on the east coast of England and, perhaps, to the Canary Islands. Once again, this would open up opportunities for Scottish companies outside of Edinburgh and Scotland to access the markets available in those markets.

The ultimate goal is to build a permanent facility at the racetrack. Initially it is to support MRO - or Micro Serving Satellite. Once the MRO system is established permanently there will be an ability to service satellites in geostationary and other low-earth orbit. This could make the low-earth orbit market for satellites very attractive and allow small satellite companies to enter in the area. It also opens the door to using the space in a bid to produce materials for the HHO process which burns up gas at high temperatures in an effort to create a high energy gas.

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