Space flights from remote Sutherland take a massive leap forward with license application


The application is another step towards making launches of the Moray-based business’ ‘Prime’ rocket a reality.

Future launches will take place at Space Hub Sutherland at a remote spot near Tongue, despite last-ditch court action to have them grounded..

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The CAA launch license ensures that operators meet the regulatory requirements set by the UK’s Space Industry Act 2018 and Space Industry Regulations 2021.

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said: “This license application is another big step forward for Orbex, and is one of several tracks running in parallel that will enable commercial launch operations to commence from Sutherland.

“The application process is rigorous and detailed, with a strong focus on safety. It has taken a large team more than two years to complete the investigations and analysis required to submit the license application today.

“We are looking forward to working with the CAA over the coming months as they assess our application.”

Ready for a full launch test before heading to the skies: The Orbex ‘Prime’ space rocket.

Space Hub Sutherland is the world’s first carbon neutral spaceport and the only spaceport in the UK to have received full planning permission. Construction is due to begin later this year.

Full launch dress rehearsals of the rocket will be conducted at a facility in Kinloss later this year..

Prime is a micro-launcher designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit. It will be the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket with a carbon footprint up to 96 per cent lower than comparable space launch programmes.

Last August a billionaire retail tycoon and Scotland’s largest landowner lost a legal challenge to overturn planning permission for the spaceport.

The A’Mhoine on the Moine Peninsula near Tongue in Sutherland, the proposed site for the planned spaceport, ‘Space Hub Sutherland’. (Photo by Paul Campbell/Getty Images)

Anders Povlsen’s company Wildland Ltd launched a judicial review against Space Hub Sutherland, which was granted permission 12 months earlier to build a site from which to launch small satellites into orbit.

Mr Povlsen, who owns more land in the UK than the Queen and the Church of Scotland combined, is the majority shareholder in the online fashion giant Asos.

The Danish tycoon and his wife Anne, worth an estimated £6 billion, own tens of thousands of acres of land in Sutherland and across the Scottish Highlands.

They had argued that Highland Council’s decision to green-light planning for the project had failed to consider effects on the local wildlife and environment.

But the Court of Session judge Lord Doherty rejected the legal challenge brought by Wildland Ltd against Highland Council, saying he was “not persuaded” the local authority had breached any law.

Orbex hopes to launch its satellites from the site on the A’Mhoine Peninsula, which is an area of ​​peatland near Tongue.

Wildland Ltd is wholly controlled by Mr and Mrs Povlsen and owns 221,000 acres across Scotland and the famous Jenners building in Edinburgh’s Princes Street which he recently revealed new plans for.

Its sister company Wild Ventures Ltd invested nearly £1.5 million into the Shetland Space Center at a former RAF base on Unst in Shetland.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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