in Space

Spaceport and Met Office reach forecasting agreement

Posted 7 February 2022 · Add Comment

SaxaVord UK Spaceport is to install a weather station with the support of the Met Office, to help with forecasting for rocket launches.

Above: SaxaVord on Unst.
SaxaVord UK Spaceport

The Met Office will advise on the most appropriate equipment and best location on the Lamba Ness peninsula where launches are to take place.

This is part of a wider contract between Saxa and the Met Office and parameters included in forecasts will help the Launch Director make go/no-go decisions depending on weather conditions. Saxa will also have the option of remote or on-site consultancy from a trained Met Office operational meteorologist for launch days, providing up-to-the-minute expert input on current and predicted weather conditions.

Post-launch met data analysis will be available to help the launch operator understand how their launch vehicle performed within the met conditions of the launch.

Jimmy Slaughter, SaxaVord UK Spaceport Range Officer, said: “This contract marks the end of long and detailed discussions between SaxaVord Spaceport and the Met Office on what bespoke spaceport weather services could and should look like.

“It also marks the beginning of what we hope will be a long and fruitful relationship in which both organisations grow and learn from each other as we develop orbital launch services from the UK.”  

Simon Marshall, Met Office Key Account Manager, said: “This is an exciting time for the UK Space industry and we are delighted Saxa have chosen to work with us to help make better decisions to stay safe and thrive.

As a leading Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) and space weather prediction centre we are well placed to support Saxa not only on launch days, but in the days and weeks leading up to launches. At the Met Office, safety and integrity are at the heart of everything we do and these are values shared with Saxa.”

Matt Archer, Director of Commercial Spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “Accurate weather monitoring plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and reliability of space launch activities, just as it does for aircraft and airports.

“This partnership between SaxaVord and the Met Office is a great example of the important work being carried out as we prepare for the first small satellite launches from UK soil.”

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