The UK’s first and only satellite launch site, which is being developed by Shetland Space Centre, has moved a step closer to reality with a £2.05m investment by Leonne International.

The launch site, which is in the early stages of development by Shetland Space Centre, will be located on Unst in Shetland, the northernmost island in Britain, which is 640 miles due north of London.

The location was selected after the UK Space Agency’s Sceptre Report identified it as the best location for launching small satellites into space.

Leonne International’s investment will see the international private equity firm take a 20% stake in Shetland Space Centre, and help it develop the launch site and ground station.

It will also help realise Shetland Space Centre’s integrated business model, which sees revenue generated from launch activities, ground activities and tourism.

“The investment enables us to proceed with the first stages of gaining the necessary permissions and licences required to operate the facility and get on with building our launch site and ground station,” said Frank Strang MBE, CEO of Shetland Space Centre.

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“Furthermore, the funding validates what we and, crucially, the wider space industry has been saying for several years now – that Shetland is absolutely the right location for kick-starting the UK’s entry into this rapidly growing market.”

Shetland Space Centre: Creating a space-based economy

The UK, which is already a leader in the satellite industry, has placed considerable focus on growing its space industry, and it is hoped that Shetland can become a vital hub for this industry.

The Shetland Space Centre has undertaken considerable groundwork towards this, including establishing collaborations with space industry heavyweights, key newcomers and academic partners. This includes Lockheed Martin, Edinburgh University and Raptor Aerospace. It has also been working with Faroese Telecom as part of a bid to build connections in the Arctic economy.

The organisation has also built considerable support within the Shetland communities and local authority, characterising the launch site as both a green space centre and a powerful, job-creating boost to the local economy.

“We are delighted to have Leonne International as a partner in realising the benefits of space exploration for the UK, and for Shetland’s economy: bringing jobs, revitalising the economy, attracting visitors and establishing Shetland as a northern hub supporting vertical launch and ground station activity,” said Strang.

“We are always excited to partner with firms which exhibit ambition, innovation and excitement, and Shetland Space Centre exceeds this criteria with the plans they have in place for their satellite launch programme,” added Michael Haston, CEO of Leonne International.

“With the help of the SSC, Shetland’s space economy is unique and will inevitably become a very valuable asset to the UK.”

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