Ahead of the UK’s first commercial satellite vertical launch, SaxaVord Spaceport has has retained contracts with Lerwick Engineering and Fabrication (LEF) and T12 Consultancy. LEF, which holds the manufacturing contract, and T12, specialists in project engineering, will design and construct the launch rail for SaxaVord on the Lamba Ness site in Unst, Shetland. A launch rail is a critical component for directing suborbital launch vehicles.
LEF and T12 Consultancy will engineer, design and provide technical services to build the launch rail. The system will be able to support different rockets with a total gross lift-off mass of up to three tonnes. It will be operated remotely in order to adjust azimuth and elevation in response to weather conditions in real-time.
Installing the launch rail, which is being supported by £378,000 of funding from the UK Space Agency, marks another milestone in the spaceport’s development.
The launch rail will allow SaxaVord to increasingly become the gateway for the European space industry. It will also allow SaxaVord to widen its service offerings. By making suborbital launches possible, SaxaVord aims to also support research facilities and the education sector. Suborbital launches allow, amongst others, to test, demonstrate and qualify key components for satellites and orbital launches, as well as for scientific research and experiments that require microgravity. Applications include material testing, atmospheric physics and measurements, hypersonic research, technology testing and for education within technologies that are key not only to the space industry.
Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport commented, “Construction of SaxaVord’s launch site is progressing at pace and this contract marks a significant next step in the design of our industry-leading launch facilities. By working with local Shetland-based companies we’re continuing to support local businesses and industries at every stage in the Spaceport’s progression.”
Robin Huber, Director of Business Development for SaxaVord Spaceport added “These contracts signify an important moment in bringing the Spaceport to life. The launch rail will support the development of new technologies which in turn will influence more sustainable space-related activities.”
Richard Latimer, Commercial Director at T12 Consultancy commented, “This is a milestone contract for our team, in a very exciting and challenging industry. We are extremely pleased that SaxaVord Spaceport has selected us, and we’re looking forward to deploying our innovation and technical experience and playing our part in SaxaVord’s mission.”
Callum Mills, Technical Manager at LEF commented, “We are very pleased to be involved with the SaxaVord Spaceport project, we see this as a fantastic opportunity to play our part in a project which is not only significant for our company but Shetland as a whole. This has been a very exciting opportunity for LEF to apply our vast experience from our operations within the oil and gas sector for the last 30 years to a unique and exciting project in a new market. We look forward to supporting SaxaVord in their mission to deliver this project.”