Countdown Gin and the Shetland Space Centre

Following the launch of Countdown Gin, we thought we’d share a bit more information with you about the project that inspired it – the launch of the UK’s first vertical satellite in May 2022.

The satellite launch will take place on the island of Unst - the place both the Shetland Space Centre and Shetland Reel call home. So, as friendly neighbours, that’s where the idea for a gin collaboration was born.

Shetland Space Centre will be the hub of UK space activity, where scientists, engineers, academics and other professionals will come together to help establish a sustainable, commercial launch market as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme – LaunchUK.

The first satellite launch programme is being spearheaded by Lockheed Martin, with ABL Space Systems providing the rocket. German rocket makers HyImpulse Technologies will also use the site to develop rockets that use environmentally-friendly hybrid fuel technology.

Unst was chosen as the best location for the venture thanks to its northerly latitude, making it an ideal spot to build the ground station, which will gather data from existing satellites passing overhead.

There are also no obstacles in Unst that would prohibit the direct launch of satellites into orbit, such as towns or oil or gas plants. Airspace around the island is also clear, with no major trans-Atlantic routes or military restrictions.

Ahead of next year’s big launch, work is underway to prepare the site and build the rockets that will propel the satellites into orbit. The launch site at Lamba Ness is currently being developed and plans are afoot to build a control centre and ground station nearby.

The project marks the beginning of an exciting new industry for Shetland and promises to boost the local economy with plenty of jobs and training opportunities. Local engineering firms have already been involved helping HyImpulse Technologies carry out engine tests at the former Scatsta airfield on the Shetland mainland.

With all this hard work taking place on our doorstep, we thought it was only right to create Countdown Gin, playing our part in building excitement for the project and providing the perfect refreshments after a long day of work at the centre!

Visit the Shetland Space Centre website to find out more and for an overview of the project from Shetland Space Centre chief operating officer Scott Hammond, listen to episode 2 of the new Saxa Vord podcast.

Plus, whilst you’re here, you can take a look at Countdown Gin too!

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