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Goonhilly and Shetland Space Centre collaborate on launch and tracking capabilities

Antennas of Goonhilly; Credits: Goonhilly Earth Station

Against the backdrop of the UK’s flourishing NewSpace sector, Shetland Space Centre (SCC) and Goonhilly Earth Station are to partner to develop launch and tracking capabilities that will enable further development of the sector. The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see them working together on a range of projects that will support both the Shetland Islands and Cornwall’s ambitions in the fields of horizontal and vertical launch capabilities.

The companies will market and deliver launch services as well as monitoring and tracking from their respective sites. At present, SCC is in the process of building a launch centre on the island of Unst as well as developing a teleport and other related ground infrastructure. Goonhilly will invest in and install a new tracking antenna on the island and both firms will work together on data centres in both locations, one at the top and one at the very bottom of the British Isles.

SCC was formedin 2017 by Frank and Debbie Strang and their team comprises 5 employees that are working towards gaining planning permission for the launch facility. Located in Cornwall, Goonhilly is a global communications services hub and satellite station that provides a wide range of solutions to commercial players as well as governments and space agencies.

Frank Strang, CEO of SSC, said: “As soon as we met the team from Goonhilly, we all recognised that there are potentially huge benefits from collaborating. We have a shared drive and determination to increase the footprint of the UK space industry, from launches on UK soil to a huge range of ground station activities.”

Ian Jones, CEO, Goonhilly Earth Station; Credits: Goonhilly

Ian Jones, CEO of Goonhilly, added: “We’re really looking forward to working with the Shetland Space Centre team at this hugely exciting time in the development of UK launch activity. We’re already working with Spaceport Cornwall to support horizontal launch. Shetland is the obvious choice for supporting vertical launch – there’s infrastructure, data connectivity and transport links already in place, in addition to the vitally important clear air space towards polar and sun-synchronous orbits. I think it’s obvious that Shetland is recognised as the best location by key launch companies. The team at SSC have the skills and determination to make this a viable business opportunity.”

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