Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said:
The construction of this new facility marks another major milestone in our ambitions to become a modern, agile spacefaring nation. Orbex is an innovative spaceflight company developing its own launch vehicle which will be tested at this new facility, before launching from Space Hub Sutherland.
This is a very exciting time for the UK space sector, as we look ahead to the first ever satellite launches from UK soil next year.
Orbex has commissioned Motive Offshore Group to develop the test launch platform, known as Orbex LP1, which will support the testing of Orbex´s Prime rocket, designed to transport small satellites to low Earth orbit.
The UK Space Agency supported the development of Orbex’s Prime Rocket with £5.5 million of funding, as part of the government’s plans to enable small satellite launch from UK spaceports.
Although Orbex will operate its launches from Space Hub Sutherland, the test launch platform at Kinloss will allow for full ‘dress rehearsals’ of launch procedures.
Space Hub Sutherland is one of seven potential spaceport sites across the UK and is being developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The spaceport is expected to generate around 60 jobs in Caithness and Sutherland, and a total of 250 jobs in the wider region.