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by Sofia Villegas
09 January 2024
Scottish space sector warns of lack of political leadership

SaxaVord Spaceport is in Unst, Shetland | UKSA

Scottish space sector warns of lack of political leadership

Representatives from the Scottish space industry have told a UK Parliament committee the sector needs a clear political leader. 

At a Scottish Affairs Committee meeting on Monday, deputy chief executive of the SaxaVord spaceport Scott Hammond said there were “too many cooks involved” when asked if the UK and Scottish governments had the right strategy in place.  

He added that there had to be more resources behind the plans, or they would become “just paper”. 

Hammond said unclear UK leadership in space launches is a significant barrier for the industry and called for “a senior politician” to be directly responsible for the sector.  

Regulation of activities in space are a reserved matter for the UK Government. However, the Scottish Government has control over some related areas such as the licenses for space launch companies to deposit stuff in the sea.

However, Hammond explained the Marine Directorate was “never set up with that in mind” and called for a political cover “to empower civil servants to do things differently” so they can get these licenses. The process should take around 14 weeks yet is currently taking about six months, MPs were told.

Other topics discussed were the potential for more launch contracts, the cost of launch, the benefits of it to Scotland and the need for regulation to “be fit for purpose”. 

Mario Kobald, chief executive of German rocket firm HyImpulse, was also giving evidence. He said his firm expects to attempt sub-orbital launches from the Shetland spaceport this August, with full orbital launches to take place from 2025. 

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