Lockheed Martin to transfer satellite launch operations to Shetland Space Centre

By Nina Massey, PA Science Correspondent
·2-min read

Aerospace company Lockheed Martin will transfer its satellite launch operations from Space Hub Sutherland to Shetland Space Centre.

Officials say the spaceport site could support a total of 605 jobs in Scotland by 2024, including 140 locally and 210 across the wider Shetland region.

A further 150 jobs will be created through wider manufacturing and support services, according to the UK Space Agency.

The agency confirmed that Lockheed Martin’s plans to move its UK Pathfinder Launch to Lamba Ness on Unst would continue to deliver long-term value.

The move will also help establish a sustainable, commercial launch market as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme LaunchUK, it added.

The aerospace firm is in discussions with a preferred partner to provide services for its UK Pathfinder Launch, which would take place from Shetland Space Centre.

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, said: “This is an extremely exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is situated at the very forefront of this.

“The transfer of Lockheed Martin’s UK Pathfinder satellite launch to Shetland Space Centre will enhance Scotland’s existing vertical launch capability and enable us to target a wider market base through a complementary offer across multiple spaceports.”

Nik Smith, UK country executive at Lockheed Martin, said: “From the outset our focus has been on realising the greatest economic benefit for the UK through the spaceflight programme.

“The transfer of our UK spaceflight operations to Shetland will not only broaden launch options available in the UK, but also ensure the economic benefits of these endeavours are felt more widely.”

LaunchUK is working with partners to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from UK spaceports including Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit.

The small satellites could be used for a number of purposes, including Earth observation and communications.