If Britain has been long time known for its work on producing satellite, it hasn’t been sending some for a long time.
The last satellite launched using a British rocket was indeed launched in 1971 by Black Arrow. But even at that time the rocket took off in Australia. Famous launching locations such as Cape Canaveral are usually located close to Equator to help rockets along with take off. Britain, does therefore not sound like the perfect location for a spaceport however things are changing. Indeed, UK government’s business secretary has announced it is giving Highlands and Islands Enterprise a £2.5m grant. It will help them to develop a vertical launch site. The site will locate itself on the A’Mhoine peninsula on the north coast of Scotland.
New technologies to allow Scotland launch site development
So what is the reason of a sudden appeal toward Scotland for a new vertical launch site? The main reason is that satellites are getting more advanced and smaller. Indeed, “cubesat” format now allows 3 litters satellite to carry as much technology as former and far bigger satellites. This format allows to launch satellites using smaller rockets and to place them in a polar orbit.
This orbit goes from the top to the bottom of the planet. It would be easy to reach from a place as north as Scotland. Finally, it is safe to say that Scotland, with its empty lands and sea, would be a safe and cheap place to launch satellite from. Finally Scotland is already Europe number one satellite maker and a homeland launch would drastically reduce transportation and insurance costs.
Huge economic opportunities for UK and the world
Small satellites are currently developing at an insanely fast rate. We can use them for various things such as communication or weather monitoring.
Specifically designed for LEO (low earth orbit), they are becoming the new norm as they are more cost effective and provide better connection speed. The market for small satellites is likely to grow eightfold by 2045, topping the insane worth of $2.7 trillion. Needless to say that it is a huge opportunity for UK which may receive fewer investments in the future as a consequence of Brexit. Spaceflight market is therefore planned to add a £3.8 billion share to UK economy in the future. It is also good news for the rest of the world, especially in Africa where low orbit satellite would enable a better coverage, connection and response speed. Afrikanet is exploring new possibilities of products using that technologies to provide even value connections in a close future.