Astra announced May 10 that it plans to carry out launches from a spaceport in the Shetland Islands starting in 2023 as part of international expansion plans.
Astra said it is partnering with SaxaVord Spaceport to provide launch services from that facility, located on the island of Unst, the northernmost of the Shetland Islands. Those launches would begin in 2023 pending final agreements and regulatory approvals.
Astra, which has carried out launches so far from Kodiak, Alaska, and Cape Canaveral, Florida, has emphasized both the mobility of its launch system and its desire to expand to locations outside the United States. SaxaVord would be the first spaceport outside the United States that Astra launches from.
“Our entire launch system is mobile and can be easily and discretely transported anywhere in the world in a standard ISO shipping container by truck, ship, rail or cargo aircraft,” Chris Kemp, chief executive of Astra, said in a May 5 earnings call, adding that the company requires six people to set up the launch system. “Our mobile launch system also enables our allies, governments that do not have access to space, to rapidly establish their own sovereign space launch capabilities by partnering with Astra.”
“The additional inclinations, flexibility and launch capacity that this partnership enables will allow us to meet the needs of Astra’s customers and align directly with SaxaVord U.K. Spaceport’s economic investment and environmental goals,” said Matt Gansler, vice president of business operations at Astra, in a statement about the agreement.