Unst airfield set for new lease of life as space industry hub


Shetland Space Centre is to exercise its option to lease the Ordale Airfield at Baltasound in Unst as it gears up for spaceflight activity.

The regeneration of the site, which opened in 1968 and served fixed-wing and helicopter traffic for the North Sea oil and gas industry until 1996, is regarded as an important step in attracting the international space industry to the isles.

It is envisaged that the airfield, which is less than 5km from the proposed launch site at Lamba Ness, will be used firstly for fuel and equipment storage as well as housing small business incubators supporting spaceflight activity on the island.

The airfield was used in July 2019 for the successful test launch of a balloon by B2Space in conjunction with SSC.

SSC intends to refurbish the airfield lighting system and hangar in order that clients may use the 640m runway to fly in and out as required.

SSC CEO Frank Strang said: “Without doubt having an airfield with associated infrastructure close to the launch site is a huge benefit to the embryonic Shetland space industry, and is another reason along with its location why Shetland is seen as the optimal place for vertical launch activity in the UK.

“The airfield will not be as busy as it was in the early 1990s, but this will be the first step towards bringing in limited commercial traffic.”

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