Seven pupils from Baltasound Junior High School visited the UK’s Pathfinder Spaceport, SaxaVord at Lamba Ness in Unst, yesterday (18th May). The Spaceport held a ground preparation celebration on the site of future rocket launches. The event was also attended by Alastair Cooper, the former Shetland Islands Council member, and the local Uyeasound Viking Up Helly Aa squad.
The launch pads will be built by DITT Construction Ltd., a local Shetland firm, who will be supported by a range of sub-contractors including Unst Plant, EMN Plant and Sandisons. At the height of construction, there are expected to be 60 workers on site, all of whom will be accommodated at the former RAF Saxa Vord site which SaxaVord Spaceport acquired.
The first stage of work for the construction team will be a series of road improvements in four separate sections from Baltasound to the site at Lamba Ness. In the meantime, a “strip and record” process is already underway on the Lamba Ness site, to ascertain the archaeological record. Once completed, along with the roadworks, construction of the Spaceport itself will begin, ready for launch by the end of this year.
SaxaVord Spaceport intends to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year by naming Pad Three after Her Majesty, named “Launch Pad Elizabeth.” SaxaVord’s other launch pads will be named “Fredo” and “Calum” respectively.
DITT director Peter Tait, who has family connections to Unst, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed as the main contractor to build the Spaceport.
“It is great to see vitality returning to the island and we are excited to get going, initially on the roadworks and ultimately on the site itself. We are obviously hoping for a summer of good weather!”
Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport commented, “Today marks a milestone in our journey to become the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport.
“I was honoured that Alastair Cooper accepted our invitation to the site for the occasion. Alastair has devoted virtually all his working life to ensuring Shetland’s economy is sustainable and flourishes in the future, which is very much at the heart of our mission here.
“We have a fantastic team on board, and I am confident that by the end of this year they will have been responsible for establishing the UK’s vertical launch capabilities.”