Author Topic: SaxaVord Spaceport  (Read 9044 times)

Online jebbo

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SaxaVord Spaceport
« on: 01/15/2023 06:00 am »
Given construction is underway, and RFA have announced they will be using it, it seems time for a dedicated thread (as requested by trimeta).

Apparently, 30 launches a year are planned, with three launch pads.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2022/11/23/construction-on-uks-first-vertical-rocket-launch-site-ahead-of-schedule/

--- Tony

Offline PM3

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #1 on: 01/15/2023 06:43 am »
Orbital rockets that are to be launched from SaxaVord:

ABL RS1 - 2023  - "UK Pathfinder Launch", first orbital launch from Scotland - Spacenews

RFA One - 2023

Venture Orbital Zephyr - 2024 - SaxVord announcement

HyImpulse SL1 - 2024 - SaxaVord and HyImpulse announcements

SaxaVord is becoming the leading spaceport in Europe. It has outperformed Sutherland Spaceport, e. g. ABL switched from Sutherland to SaxaVord.

ABL is the only one with a realistic (but still aspirational) UK launch date. All the other will slip to later years.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline trimeta

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #2 on: 01/15/2023 06:51 am »
My index of companies which have at some point shown interest in launching from SaxaVord (these companies may have changed plans since the linked news articles/press releases, not a guarantee of future plans), which expands slightly on PM3's list:

ABL (in conjunction with Lockheed Martin)
Skyrora
RFA
HyImpulse
Latitude (née Venture Orbital Systems)
Astra
C6 Launch Systems

I suppose I could also have just linked this article which mentions all seven too, but showing the most recent info for each gives a sense of how realistic they each are.

Side-note, Skyrora also originally said they were ambivalent between Sutherland and SaxaVord, before making a multi-launch commitment with SaxaVord. So it's not just ABL which weighed both options and went here.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2023 06:58 am by trimeta »

Offline ringsider

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #3 on: 01/16/2023 05:58 pm »
It looks like the emerging European small launch industry is solidifying, with one anchor launcher client per spaceport:

- Isar Aerospace -> Andoya (Norway)

- Rocket Factory Augsburg -> Shetland (UK)

- OrbEx -> Sutherland (UK)

- ArianeGroup Themis (aka Maiaspace) -> Esrange (Sweden) for testing + Guyana for launch

It's not clear if Skyrora has a chair after the music stops, we will see.

Of those four groups, the most critical question is: who has money?

- Isar Aerospace + Andoya: Isar last raised money around ~2 years ago, during The Good Times, so may be out looking for more money now, in a pretty awful moment for fundraising for unfinished space rockets. Andoya seems well funded by the Norwegian state.

- Rocket Factory Augsburg + Shetland: RFA seems to be drip-fed a few millions at a time from the OHB parent. Shetland unclear but is pouring concrete at least.

- OrbEx + Sutherland: raised approx. $50m-60m late 2022 for a much smaller launcher, self-funding Sutherland construction apparently.

- ArianeGroup / Maiaspace + Esrange: no issues, lots of cash.

Place your bets.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #4 on: 01/16/2023 10:33 pm »
It looks like the emerging European small launch industry is solidifying, with one anchor launcher client per spaceport:
- Isar Aerospace & RFA -> Andoya (Norway)
- Esrange (= Suborbital like Spaceport America)
Launches from Esrange will pass a No crash zone in Norway. I guess this means a requirement of >99% succes rate @ >50 flights. Norway will argue: just use Andoya.
Esrange LZ-3 will be like Spaceport America. Europe can use it to do hundreds of hopper tests. The facility will be used to develop stage landing technology. Also required for lunar and Martian landers. So the LZ-3 facility LZ-3A & -3B will enable European robotic exploration. I don't expect the orbital launch zone LZ-3C will get developed. The launch capability of Andoya, SaxaVord, Suderland and CSG surpass launch demand. 

I think ISAR, RFA and Orbex will reach operational status in the coming three years.
I expect US launch service providers to annoy European ones, by stealing launch slots from EU launch sites.
While the US only purpose is to eliminate competition.

Most likely at CSG / France Guiana, similar facilities to SaxaVord and Andoya will be build.
So two or three launch sites for mini/micro launchers. For lower inclination small satellite launches.
I expect ISAR and RFA will want to use them. But France prefers France launch companies or Spanish ones.
 
Avio will most likely launch their micro launcher demo from the ELV (Vega) launch pad when it has been modified for Vega-E. VEGA E 3th stage; VUS (1x M10/Myra engine) will be used for both Vega E and Microlauncher demo (x*M10 + VUS) Possibly Z40 gets lengthened for a P50-60 + VUS launcher. 
I expect Vega Next gen to have a single 0.6MN engine upperstage, on top of P160 or a multi-engine (x*M60) first stage. For Maia space I don't see a market with their current proposals, except for the heavy. Hopefully Maia and Avio are going to collaborate.

I think HyImpulse will launch SR-75 from SaxaVord and Esrange. I don't think they'll get SR-1 operational.
Most likely (hopefully) Nammo Northstar/Envol is more successful. Will likely launch from Andoya & Esrange.

My expectation is that only two to four European orbital launch companies can service longterm besides ArianeGroup and Avio. Launch demand isn't high enough. UK companies have a higher chance to service because of being from the UK. Launchers with orbital and suborbital / hopper versions probably also are more likely to survive.
Orbital launch will remain higher than suborbital, but the growth of suborbital will be higher than orbital.
Only CSG will have a launch rate limitation, the launch capability for the other sites is larger than the launch demand.

Offline trimeta

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #5 on: 01/16/2023 11:34 pm »
Most likely (hopefully) Nammo Northstar/Envol is more successful. Will likely launch from Andoya & Esrange.
Is Nammo even still working on Northstar? Obviously, more appropriate to ask in the dedicated thread (and I'd be happy if the mods move this side-conversation there), but last I checked they'd wiped all mention of the Northstar program from their website (this page about their hybrid propulsion projects has been 404'ed for a while, for example).

Offline Yggdrasill

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #6 on: 01/17/2023 08:38 am »
Is Nammo even still working on Northstar? Obviously, more appropriate to ask in the dedicated thread (and I'd be happy if the mods move this side-conversation there), but last I checked they'd wiped all mention of the Northstar program from their website (this page about their hybrid propulsion projects has been 404'ed for a while, for example).
Doesn't seem like it. The space division might be too busy with HERACLES, and Nammo in general is quite busy with contracts for ammunition, given the current geopolitical situation.

My understanding is that a lot of the branching out from ammunition was rooted in low demand for ammunition. That has now changed.

Offline moontomars

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #7 on: 01/18/2023 12:47 pm »
Bringing in a bit more context to what is a really great story behind the spaceport:

Long-story short: SaxaVord was founded and is being built by, at its core, a group of locals, with a broad range of backgrounds - aviation, defense, oil & gas - that jumped onto this opportunity in 2018. The funding is up until last year almost exclusively private and non-public (we estimate roughly GBP 25 - 30 million so far), very different from the government ports in ESRANGE, Sweden, or Andoya, Norway. The average age of the directors at the time of founding was over 60 (!).

They had huge ups and downs, first with Lockheed leaning towards Sutherland and then switching to SaxaVord in 2020, and also a shady investment which they had to unwind in early 2020.

Regarding the port:
- there will be 3 launch pads, 2 of which are being built already
- up to 10 launches per year per pad, so 30 launches per year total (suborbital and orbital)
- maximum payload capacity is 1,500 kg per launch, so maximum potential of 45,000 kg per year once finished (caveat: pad 1&2 will be smaller than #3, so this could be revised down)
- satellite ground station, which is already partially operational (currently using the local airfield, will be moved to the site)

Overview of the full launch complex:


Closer look at the largest launch pad 3, named "Elizabeth" after the late queen:


A nice video with a flyover that shows the location and surrounding scenery:


If you're curious about the full story, with a lot more background on the people, the spaceport and the business behind it, here's my writeup: https://moontomars.space/space-port/saxavord-spaceport/

Really looking forward to seeing this one literally "take off"

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #8 on: 11/08/2023 02:38 pm »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1722261127244156933

Quote
Great news as the UK prepares for launches from Scottish soil:

Launch service provider RFA UK (Rocket Factory Ltd) has received £3.5 million from the UK Space Agency. The funding was awarded as part of the European Space Agency (ESA), Boost! Programme.

RFA UK will use the funding to develop and operate the infrastructure and test equipment needed to enable them to launch the RFA ONE launch system.

The first launch from SaxaVord Spaceport is planned for Q2 2024.

RFA AG will have exclusive access to the SaxaVord’s ‘Fredo’ launch pad from where it plans to provide a regular cadence of launch services as one of the spaceport’s anchor customers.

Measuring 30 meters tall and 2 meters wide, the RFA ONE launch vehicle is a three-stage launch vehicle capable of deploying up to 1,300 kg to a 500  km polar orbit.

The rocket uses efficient and environmentally friendly Helix staged-combustion engines, stainless steel tanks and standardized components from other industries to offer flexible, low-cost and precise transportation into orbit with its Redshift OTV.

twitter.com/esa_transport/status/1722152399219868082

Quote
ESA further boosts @rfa_space across Europe. 🚀

RFA One is an orbital vehicle that will have three stages and be launched from @SaxaVord_Space in the UK.
30 m tall and 2 m in diameter, RFA One targets a deployment capability of up to 1300 kg to a 500 km polar orbit.

Offline microbrew

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #9 on: 11/10/2023 08:07 pm »
I think ISAR, RFA and Orbex will reach operational status in the coming three years.

Agree.

Quote
I expect US launch service providers to annoy European ones, by stealing launch slots from EU launch sites.
While the US only purpose is to eliminate competition.

This is why the Orbex strategy to own a single user spaceport, like Rocket Lab, makes sense. They won't be constrained by sharing capacity, and it is probably cheaper to own rather than rent after a relatively small number of launches, especially when Saxavord is planning to charge £1m launch and make a 48% margin on that price (see image):



At that price Orbex probably justifies the cost of their own spaceport in a relatively small number of launches.

Quote
My expectation is that only two to four European orbital launch companies can service longterm besides ArianeGroup and Avio. Launch demand isn't high enough.

Each of the other survivors will end up paying for their spaceport "slots" at full customer rental prices in perpetuity, while Orbex will have already amortized the spaceport and gained a significant a operational cost advantage.

Offline PM3

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #10 on: 11/10/2023 08:28 pm »
So far there are only two rocket builders that have commited to SaxaVord and seem to be on a good way to build a working orbital rocket before running out of money. These are exactly the two whose first SaxaVord launch is sponsored by the UK Space Agency: RFA and ABL.

Regarding the question which European small launchers will survive on the long run, my bet is on RFA One and on ArianeGroup's reusable Maia rocket, which will be made in France and likely launch from Kourou. So there should be no congestion at SaxaVord's planned three launch pads.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline microbrew

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #11 on: 11/12/2023 09:00 am »
So far there are only two rocket builders that have commited to SaxaVord and seem to be on a good way to build a working orbital rocket before running out of money.

The funding for Saxavord is drying up. The big loan Strang siad he had "signed" has vanished, or never existed. Last injection of money was a meagre £2m 4 months ago. Most work has stopped, people complaining about not being paid. Bankers are doing the rounds, an outfit called Downgate(?). Probably trying to get some govt money to survive at the mo. No licence, despite being "weeks away" in June (https://www.insider.co.uk/news/shetland-spaceport-weeks-away-recognition-30304356).

Quote
These are exactly the two whose first SaxaVord launch is sponsored by the UK Space Agency: RFA and ABL.

Virgin Orbit's launch was also sponsored by UKSA. How did that seal of quality work out for them?

RFA has riased less money than Isar and Orbex and is two years behind at least one of them. That KKR money has not yet arrived, and if it has it's partial and if that then it's a loan - they issued another convertible loan bond for just €15m in Sept., which is about their 10th converitible loan. Their 2021 books show that more than one third of their 128 staff (48 people) were interns, and it's common knowledge they were payng interns around €850 a month and some were working bar jobs in teh evenings. Another seal of quality.

Quote
Regarding the question which European small launchers will survive on the long run, my bet is on RFA One and on ArianeGroup's reusable Maia rocket, which will be made in France and likely launch from Kourou. So there should be no congestion at SaxaVord's planned three launch pads.

"Planned" ::)

There's a an old Shetland business plan floating aorund showing 20 launches happening in 2023 at a revenue of £18m...  Will dig it out for the lolz.

Offline PM3

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #12 on: 11/12/2023 11:56 am »
(https://www.insider.co.uk/news/shetland-spaceport-weeks-away-recognition-30304356).

"Owner Frank Strang, who along with his wife Debbie and a small team built the privately-funded spaceport, says the first launch will be “two fingers to the people who tried to put us out of business”.

👍

And:

Quote
A United Kingdom House of Commons report published this month criticized the government’s approval of new spaceports and satellite launches as being excessively slow and bureaucratic, and it urged rapid action to streamline regulations to secure the nation’s status in the booming launch industry.
https://parabolicarc.com/2023/08/01/house-report-urges-rapid-improvements-uk-spaceport-launch-licensing/
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline microbrew

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #13 on: 11/12/2023 01:40 pm »
A United Kingdom House of Commons report published this month criticized the government’s approval of new spaceports and satellite launches as being excessively slow and bureaucratic, and it urged rapid action to streamline regulations to secure the nation’s status in the booming launch industry.

https://parabolicarc.com/2023/08/01/house-report-urges-rapid-improvements-uk-spaceport-launch-licensing/

Great refernece, thanks for that:

"Witnesses testified that despite the problems, the CAA has made progress in its handling of license applications. Representatives from SaxaVord Spaceport, which is under construction in Scotland, testified they have a very good relationship with CAA officials and that licensing was progressing without any problems."

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #14 on: 11/12/2023 01:42 pm »
Is there any commercial launch sites that make a profit? Most sites are government run  and whiling charging launch services fee,  doubt its are enough to cover site operating costs.


Offline trimeta

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #15 on: 11/12/2023 05:44 pm »
Is there any commercial launch sites that make a profit? Most sites are government run  and whiling charging launch services fee,  doubt its are enough to cover site operating costs.
Are there any commercial launch sites that are actually, y'know, launching? Other than Mahia, but obviously that site is just one part of Rocket Lab's holdings and isn't trying to be profitable on its own.

Although speaking of Rocket Lab, I guess Wallops is somewhat commercial, right? I can't recall the specifics there.

(And I guess I'm probably neglecting other sites which exclusively launch suborbital payloads...I don't know how profitable those are.)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #16 on: 11/13/2023 10:07 am »
.....
Although speaking of Rocket Lab, I guess Wallops is somewhat commercial, right? I can't recall the specifics there.
.....
IIRC the state of Virginia more or less runs the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Online edzieba

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #17 on: 11/13/2023 10:35 am »
.....
Although speaking of Rocket Lab, I guess Wallops is somewhat commercial, right? I can't recall the specifics there.
.....
IIRC the state of Virginia more or less runs the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
Same with Alaska owning Kodiak.

Offline Yggdrasill

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #18 on: 11/13/2023 12:31 pm »
Boca Chica? Though that too isn't trying to make money on it's own.

Offline PM3

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Re: SaxaVord Spaceport
« Reply #19 on: 11/14/2023 03:13 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1724438977749372965

Quote from: Jeff Foust
Alan Thompson of Skyrora says at Space Tech Expo Europe that they hope to get a UK CAA license by the spring of 2024 for a second suborbital test flight, this time from SaxaVord. (The first launch last year from Iceland was… less than successful.)

The stakes in SaxaVord are too high for a failure, too many parties need or want it. Including the UK Space Agency, right? This will work out in some way.

...

But well, this is a blow for SaxaVord:

https://hyimpulse.de/Press_Release/PRESS%20RELEASE%20_%20HYIMPULSE%20_NOV2023_SL.pdf

Quote
Suborbital Rocket Launch Site and Launch Window confirmed


Tuesday, 14th of November 2023
At Space Tech Expo in Bremen, Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp and HyImpulse
Technologies co-CEO Christian Schmierer confirmed the launch window of the SR75.
This signals the greenlight for the German-based company HyImpulse to launch their
suborbital rocket SR75 from Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range in March 2024.
The transportation of the launch hardware will commence shortly and preparations for
the launch campaign are ramping up in the final phase.

Because, as of February 2, 2021:

Quote
HyImpulse Technologies plans to begin engine testing and launching sub-orbital sounding rockets in Shetland this year with a view to a maiden orbital flight in 2023.

https://saxavord.com/german-rocket-maker-plans-to-launch-from-unst/
« Last Edit: 11/14/2023 05:50 pm by PM3 »
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