A news article on the BBC recently brought to question the choice of a site for Scotland’s new spaceport in which the Sutherland location was cited by experts as raising too many concerns. The article was then picked up by a significant number of publications including the Highlands-based Press & Journal and the Irish Times.
The original article by BBC News:
Experts from Heriot Watt and Glasgow Caledonian Universities, who were both quoted in the article came under fire from Orbex Ltd, one of the company’s that have been in receipt of government funding to support the provision of launch services. Orbex let loose on twitter with a number of attacks when another potential launch site started to share the news.
The original article sprung from a document published by a couple of University Professors, entitled “Satellites to Sutherland: not quite coals to Newcastle” published by Mike Danson, Janette Wyper & Geoff Whittam, which was revealed during the Rural Entrepreneurship Conference in Inverness.
Unfortunately the social media outbursts didn’t shed a good light on the company as was pointed out by a number of onlookers. The whole scenario came across as a bit of a meltdown and was assisted by a number of contributors also pointing out that Orbex weren’t coming across very well.
The Scottish academics spoke out against the Sutherland site and suggested that other options were likely to make more sense. A site in the Shetlands has been punting its wares for some time and seems to have the support of the University academics for a number of reasons.
Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, was on the defence throughout the weekend, following the publication of the report. It seems that Orbex are tied to the Sutherland site through their UK Space Agency funding and are therefore naturally defending that location to the hilt to ensure their funding source.
Industry experts however, continue to question the proposed launch site and as they haven’t as much as broke ground yet, there appears to be everything to play for.