back to article Private equity ponies up £2m to help launch satellites from sunny Shetland by next year

Private equity biz Leonne International has snapped up 20 per cent of Shetland Space Centre for a hair over £2m, with the cash set to grow the company ahead of launches from the northernmost British isle. The Shetland Space Centre (SSC) plans to build a satellite launch site and ground station at Baltasound Airfield on Unst ( …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Ideal

    No days spent worrying if your launch will be delayed by bad weather.

    Build a launch site where bad weather is predictable, if not constant

    1. Blackjack

      Re: Ideal

      Why not use a desert? Very low chances of rain, great view at night, and so hot anything that's gonna explode will likely do so before lunch.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Ideal

        Not much use for accessing polar orbits launching from the Sahara though. Not to mention that the difference between an orbit capable rocket and an ICBM is the payload putting a launch facility in the Saharah might not be sensible from a security p.o.v. I can see the US wanting to bomb it back into the sand for eg.

        i predict that when we, eventually, launch IndyRef2 Project Fear 2 will threaten to bomb our sat sites just like they threatened to bomb our airfields last time. Promulgating an act of war in another country notwithstanding of course. Add in that iScotland will certainly want anti aircraft weapon systems for our own security and so interdicting our airspace might get met with rapid unplanned disassembly and the pilot ejecting into a hostile housing scheme . . .

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Ideal

          ejecting into a hostile housing scheme

          You're talking about Liverpool right?

        2. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Ideal

          >i predict that when we, eventually, launch IndyRef2 Project Fear 2 will threaten to bomb our sat sites just like they threatened to bomb our airfields last time.

          Citation?

          1. CliveS
            Mushroom

            Re: Ideal

            >>i predict that when we, eventually, launch IndyRef2 Project Fear 2 will threaten to bomb our sat sites just like they threatened to bomb our airfields last time.

            >Citation?

            Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, back in March 2012. The former Conservative Lord Advocate and Solicitor General stated that in the event of Scotland becoming independent, then were a hostile power to gain access to the runways at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, England would have no alternative than to bomb the airports.

            https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13050305.english-would-bomb-our-airports/

        3. Roger Kynaston
          Coat

          Re: iScotland!!??

          Very OT I know but I didn't know that La Sturgeon was proposing the sale of an independent country to the fruity giant.

          I've got it and am off.

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

        5. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

          Re: Ideal

          If your criteria are "desert" and "polar orbit" then Antarctica fits the bill. It does have certain non-trivial disadvantages however.

        6. Velv Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Ideal

          Pretty sure the USA has some of it's own deserts. Much of Texas is on a similar latitude to North Africa since you mentioned the Sahara

      2. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Ideal

        There are deserts in Britain?

        The only one I can think of is the moral desert in Westminster, but I don't think it would make a great launch place... Although maybe for stratospheric balloons, as they do have a surplus of hot air...

        1. Locky
          Boffin

          Re: Ideal

          Oh course it's ideal, being the one of the most northerly points of the UK it's closer to space, and so will save on fuel.

          QED

        2. Captain Hogwash

          Re: There are deserts in Britain?

          Dungeness.

          1. NeilPost Bronze badge

            Re: There are deserts in Britain?

            Gruinard Island??

            Quiet there too.

            Nissan Sunderland will be a wasteland soon too.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: There are deserts in Britain?

              @NeilPost

              "Nissan Sunderland will be a wasteland soon too."

              Why? Now it looks like we are actually going to leave Nissan apparently have plans to shut down the unproductive French factory and invest in the UK market instead.

              1. NeilPost Bronze badge

                Re: There are deserts in Britain?

                Yeah... don’t fall for bogus stories. Nissan have flatly denied it. If anything they will decamp back to Japan and ship from there with their Free Trade Agreement with the EU... you know the one the UK doesn’t have.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: There are deserts in Britain?

                  @NeilPost

                  "Yeah... don’t fall for bogus stories. Nissan have flatly denied it"

                  They have? The nearest I heard was they are considering options and that is one of them.

                  "If anything they will decamp back to Japan and ship from there with their Free Trade Agreement with the EU... you know the one the UK doesn’t have."

                  That would be up to them. But I think that hope that brexit will be doom is coming to its end.

                  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/03/business/corporate-business/nissans-brexit-scenarios-include-closing-european-plants-ft/#.Xk-p1engrcs

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ideal

          There are deserts in Britain?

          There's the joyless cultural desert that is Milton Keynes.

          Which has the added advantage that no-one would complain if the odd rocket did accidentally crash into it, and that includes the locals...

          1. Evil_Goblin

            Re: Ideal

            Come friendly malfunctioning vertically launched rockets and fall on Slough?

        4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Ideal

          There are deserts in Britain?

          Deserts are not a function of temperature but rather rainfall..

          Which means that, no, there are not. Especially at the moment.

          1. Paul Cooper

            Re: Ideal

            Actually, parts of East Anglia have surprisingly low rainfall and would qualify as deserts under some definitions. The reason Thetford Forest exists is because it's too dry for agriculture.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Ideal

        Why not use a desert?

        Cos most of the deserts are in countries that are difficult to do business in - Libya, Saudi Arabia, the US..

    2. James Anderson Silver badge

      Re: Ideal

      Shetland is so windswept there are no trees!

      What chance a has a rocket got of staying upright long enough while waiting for a break in the weather?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Ideal

        Shetland is so windswept there are no trees!

        There were - before the Norse got there and cut them all down to build ships. Much like Skye..

        Much like Dartmoor - which was heavily forested before the ancesters cut them all down. Very windy places are hard to reforest once all the trees get cut down because the seedlings don't survive (or get blown to places where it's less windy)

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Ideal

        >What chance a has a rocket got of staying upright long enough

        The rocket will launch underground up through a circular beach house. The lack of palm trees means there is no need for them to retract for horizontal launches

        I saw a documentary on it while I was a kid

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Ideal

          I remember that documentary too. Was it not about the Shetland site itself? I certainly recall their being a Scot involved

      3. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: Ideal

        Attach a (reusable jettison able) parasail to it and it will not need the Stage 1 part of the rocket to get 10 miles up.

  2. Captain Hogwash

    Re: What was it Burns said?

    "Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun"

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What was it Burns said?

      He was Scottish so never saw it

    2. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: What was it Burns said?

      Has he ???

      Why ?!? (excluding Vampire’s)

  3. SVV Silver badge

    lead the way into this next frontier and help us conquer the new space economy for Britain

    Blimey, the number of economic sectors that Britain is going to be conquering just gets bigger every day. I can hardly keep up! I'm just a little concerned that none of these promises come with a date by which they can guarantee that we will be reaping alll these marvellous benefits, as that might indicate that this is all self aggrandising fantasy, rather than a properly worked out plan.

    1. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: lead the way into this next frontier and help us conquer the new space economy for Britain

      Blue Streak launch vehicle was cancelled in 1972. Feels like 50+ years too late.... though agree Xbina, Japan and India have caught up a lot on the meantime.

      Some funding into Reaction Engines (SABRE) feels appropriate as a disrupted in this aerospace segment.

  4. Tinslave_the_Barelegged
    IT Angle

    Don't hold your breath...

    While of course the Sutherland option may happen, I wouldn't hold my breath while HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) is playing HIEASA (HIE Aeronautics and Space Administration). They have just fouled up most majestically their role on the R100 Scottish fibre rollout, leaving themselves open to the lawsuit that now looks to have kicked the fibre rollout into the long grass. *

    https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/ministerial-statement-enhancing-scotlands-digital-connectivity

    https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2020/01/09/high-speed-broadband-for-all-delayed-until-at-least-2023/

    See? There's the IT angle.

    (* - BT, under pressure, told our community at the end of last year that our ancient 20CN exchange would finally be upgraded to something the ISPs can support. No sooner had the lawsuit been announced, and the R100 rollout indefinitely delayed, than they withdrew their commitment. Why spend money to provide a supportable service when the competition just shot itself?)

    1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

      Catchy name

      If you want a technological initiative to crash and burn, you should really call it R101.

  5. codejunky Silver badge
    Devil

    Ha

    "Assuming Scotland is still part of a single UK economy in the entity known as "Britain" once the rockets finally start flying."

    Is that really a question? The Scots really didnt want to win an independence vote last time or they would have given the English a vote.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Ha

      No, the Scots weighed up the potential that England would support Independence for Scotland and all agreed there is no way on earth they wanted to make that many English people happy (paraphrased from Andy Parsons)

  6. steamnut

    Life imitating art?

    It sounds like a 1958 film called "Rockets Galore" (showing my age a bit). The plot of the film: A British military commander Hugh Mander (Donald Sinden) arrives in the Hebrides island of Todday to investigate the land for the government's plan to build a rocket launch base there.

    You really couldn't make it up!

    Of course, back in the 1950's we did have a rocket industry. We used a place in Australia called Woomera which was an Anglo-Australian Project. Construction of Woomera began in after WWII.

  7. Velv Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Payload of 300Kg you say

    More than enough to carry off Boris Johnson

  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Private equity ponies up £2m"

    Two millipounds (0.2p) - that won't go very far. According to international standards million is represented by capital M.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "Private equity ponies up £2m"

      Yeah? Well, here are our standards. https://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Flame

    First?

    "SSC modestly described the yet-to-be-constructed facility as "the UK's only satellite launch site" – although we suspect Space Hub Sutherland and Spaceport Cornwall might have a thing or two to say about that."

    To be fair, none of them have launched anything yet, so they can all make that claim if they want, at least until some action happens and one of them can make the claim for real.

  10. NeilPost Bronze badge

    Dundee Space

    Could they find a home for the Dundee Univ evicted Satellite Receiving Station ??

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Dundee Space

      Dundee Satellite Receiving Station is relocating to the former RAF Errol Airfield a few miles west of its current location - https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/1145293/dundee-satellite-station-given-green-light-to-move-to-perthshire-airfield/

  11. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    It'll all end in tears

    Based on what I know of Shetland, it won't be long before someone is murdered at the facility and that nice Jimmy Perez has to come by to figure out who did it.

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