Orbex breaking ground on ground breaking Sutherland Spaceport

Update: May 23, 2023

Orbex breaking ground on ground breaking Sutherland Spaceport

The site, which was formerly known as Space Hub Sutherland, will be the ‘home’ spaceport of Forres-based rocket and launch services company, Orbex. It intends to use the site to launch up to 12 orbital rockets per year for the deployment of satellites into Earth’s orbit.

The commercial spaceport on the North coast of Scotland is expected to support around 250 new employment opportunities in the Highlands and Islands over the coming years, including 40 jobs in Sutherland and Caithness.

The parties quote economic impact assessments, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), that the presence of the spaceport has the potential to generate almost £1 billion in gross value added (GVA) for the Highlands and Islands economy over the next 30 years.

“Sutherland represents a new breed of spaceport, for a new breed of rocket,” said Kristian von Bengtson, Chief Development Officer and Interim CEO, Orbex.

“This is 21st century, agile spaceflight with sustainability at its core. With the construction of Sutherland Spaceport underway, this is an important piece of the puzzle that will make the UK a modern space nation. Just as importantly, we’re hopefully also setting the tone for how business can be a force for good, creating jobs and opportunities while minimising the impact upon the environment.”


The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will contribute £3m to support the development of the spaceport, which is part of public investment package also including £9m from HIE and the Scottish Government and £2.55m that the UK Space Agency announced in 2018.

The NDA chose to support Sutherland Spaceport following the decommissioning of the nearby Dounreay nuclear power station, as part of its remit to retire the UK’s oldest nuclear sites while supporting affected communities and the environment.


Orbex recently signed a 50-year sub-lease with HIE, enabling Orbex to direct the construction and assume full operational management of the new facility on the community-owned Melness Crofters Estate.

Orbex Prime, the company’s rocket, is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, Futuria Liquid Gas, supplied by Calor UK. This fuel, it says, allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly sized rockets.

Revealed in May 2022, Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket for transporting small satellites – weighing up to 180kg – into Low Earth Orbit.

The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to LEO, allowing the release of its payload of small commercial satellites into Earth’s orbit.

See also: Orbex begins construction of satellite Launch Platform in North Scotland

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