in Security / Space

SaxaVord Spaceport to launch ‘dress rehearsal’ rocket

Posted 20 May 2022

As part of the preparation for the UK’s first commercial vertical space launch, SaxaVord Spaceport today announced a planned site-wide dress rehearsal culminating with a small rocket lifting off from their Lamba Ness site in Unst, Shetland, later this year.

Image courtesy SaxaVord Spaceport

The launch, named Operation Freya, will take place from a portable Asgard launch pad system, which will be erected on the Lamba Ness peninsula which is currently being prepared for the spaceport’s construction.

The purpose is to allow the SaxaVord operational team to simulate, practice and evaluate all the processes and procedures required for the much bigger launch vehicle required to reach orbit later this year.

The rocket, which will be less than 3m tall, will reach 12,000ft before it makes its descent. As it does so, a small parachute will be deployed, and the rocket will splash down into the sea.

To guarantee the launch process will be as realistic as possible, SaxaVord is involving all parties who are preparing for the first commercial launch later this year. To ensure every aspect is rehearsed correctly, the simulation will cover vehicle tracking, airspace and maritime safety and clearance methods, as well as practicing how best to recover payloads from the sea.

With a focus on carrying out checks on all safety procedures, SaxaVord Spaceport will engage with a wide range of authorities, including Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Scotland, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Scotland, Shetland Islands Council, Unst Community Council and local crofters and landowners. Local company Ocean Kinetics will also be involved in the recovery of the rocket.

Marine users will be notified through the Admiralty and airspace users will be informed via the NOTAM process.

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport, said: “This exercise will mark another exciting step in SaxaVord and Shetland’s journey towards becoming the home of the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport.”

Jimmy Slaughter, Range Operations Manager at Saxavord Spaceport, commented: “Ensuring the safety of all launches is a top priority, and we are grateful to all the relevant authorities for helping us do so.

“It’s fantastic that the most northerly point of the UK can facilitate the endeavors of companies seeking to work in an industry devoted to the final frontier and we’re dedicated to making a success of this for the United Kingdom.”
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