Sutherland spaceport

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The Sutherland spaceport is a proposal for the first spaceport in the United Kingdom. It is planned to be located within the Melness Crofting Estate, on the A' Mhòine peninsula in Sutherland, Caithness and Sutherland, Highland, Scotland, United Kingdom. The site of the UK Space Agency's small vertical launching spaceport for small satellites makes it a good location for polar orbit and Sun-synchronous orbit launches. The proposed spaceport is expected to employ some 40 people directly and another 400 indirectly. It would be built through the local development agency, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).[1][2][3][4]

The spaceport would use Rocket Lab's Electron rocket and a planned new British rocket called Prime by the startup company Orbex.[5][6]


The A'Mhòine peninsula location was selected over two other Highland, Scotland locations: Unst, Shetland, and North Uist, Western Isles. The spaceport site is 35 miles (56 km) from the closed Dounreay nuclear research reactor. The nearest community to the spaceport is the crofting township of Talmine, alongside the Kyle of Tongue, with a population of 200.[5][7]


The project is officially called UKVL Sutherland.[8] The proposed site was announced at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show in July, and if accepted, it is planned to be completed by 2020.[9][5] There is mixed support amongst the local crofters. In November 2018, the Melness Crofters Estate (MCE) voted on whether to continue discussions about the proposal. Twenty-seven votes were cast in favour, with eighteen against and one spoiled ballot.[8]

Partners and organisations[edit]

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are working in conjunction with[8][10]

Forecasted costs[edit]

The spaceport is estimated to cost £17.3 million to build, £2.5 million of which will be given to Highlands and Islands by the UK government.[9][11]


  1. ^ "Space, not Brexit, is final frontier for Scottish outpost". Agence France Presse. 20 July 2018.
  2. ^ Chris McCall (19 July 2018). "Forget Cape Canaveral, Scotland's first spaceport proves small is beautiful". The Scotsman.
  3. ^ Kenneth Macdonald (16 July 2018). "Sutherland prepares for spaceport launch". BBC News.
  4. ^ Sofia Petkar (16 July 2018). "SPACED OUT Where is the Sutherland spaceport location in Scotland and why was it chosen?". The Sun (UK).
  5. ^ a b c Severin Carrell, Steven Morris, Ian Sample (16 July 2018). "Rocket men: locals divided over plans for UK's first spaceport". The Guardian.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ site selected as launch base for Lockheed Martin, Orbex. Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now. 16 July 2018.
  7. ^ Nigel Nelson (14 July 2018). "Brits take one step closer to moon as Sutherland in Scotland named as first UK spaceport". The Mirror (UK).
  8. ^ a b c "Sutherland spaceport project to move to next stage". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b "UK spaceport proposed for Sutherland site". BBC News. 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  10. ^ "Crofters give their backing to rockets galore". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  11. ^ "UK Government funding for vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland". Retrieved 9 November 2018.