Midlothian MP and rocket makers celebrate space industry at Westminster

On the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first space launch, Midlothian’s MP hosted a Parliamentary drop-in to celebrate the history and explore the future for the space industry.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 6:41 am
Members of the Skyrora team at Westminster, invited by Midlothian MP Owen Thompson.

The Black Arrow programme had its first successful launch on March 4, 1970 and remains the only satellite carrier rocket launch to reach orbit from UK shores.

As part of the event last week, Owen Thompson (SNP)welcomed Midlothian-based rocket innovators Skyrora to the parliament to discuss their work, building on the Black Arrow legacy and progressing towards future rocket launches from Scotland.

He said: “The pioneering Black Arrow rocket launch is a milestone moment in the UK’s space heritage. It’s important to celebrate this historic achievement as well as exploring the UK’s future place in space.

“Space manufacturing is a lesser known success story for Scotland - we are already European leaders in designing and building space technology such as satellites, and we have the capability to launch them too.

“It’s fantastic to see companies like Skyrora, based in the heart of Midlothian’s historic mining community, developing innovative new rocket launch technologies and creating skilled jobs along the way.

“In the past we used our engineering ingenuity to dig into the earth, now we may see rockets which were made in Midlothian soaring above us.

“The space industry is not only an inspiration for the next generation, Scottish satellite providers could play a crucial role in protecting the planet for the future.

“Data gathered from low orbit Earth observations can identify deterioration issues and assist environmental science in taking relevant action.

“Fifty years after Black Arrow we need to build on this fantastic work and create sovereign launch capabilities from a new Scottish spaceport.

“There’s a lot of good work being done to overcome the legislative and regulatory roadblocks to make this happen and I stand ready to do my bit to support the next generation of rockets blasting off from Scottish shores.”