Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has appointed its first consultants for the spaceport being developed on the Moine Peninsula on Scotland’s north coast for launching small satellites.
The architect will be London-based Norr Consultants, along with consulting engineer Arup and ERZ landscape architects of Glasgow.
The design contract covers architectural services, M&E engineering, civils work and landscaping. The team will be responsible for obtaining all necessary planning consents to enable construction to begin in 2020.
The firms will also be responsible for managing surveys of sites of special scientific interest: the Moine has a "blanket bog" eco-system that will have to be preserved.
Roy Kirk, Space Hub Sutherland project director, said: "This is a key step in the development of Space Hub Sutherland. This is a high profile, complex and innovative project that we expect to generate many social and economic benefits for different parts of the region, including around 400 well-paid skilled jobs.
"We are delighted to have Norr and Arup Engineers on board and look forward to working with them and the wider project management team in taking the project forward."
Kevin Stephen, lead architect for NORR, added: "The Space Hub project is exciting, as well as complex and sensitive. The integration of a vertical small satellite launch facility, with associated infrastructure into this rural and naturally significant site, presents many interesting challenges for us; the sort of challenge we thrive on. We look forward to getting started."
The HIE development agency is leading the £17.5m Space Hub Sutherland project, which include a £2.5m grant from the UK Space Agency. It is working towards submitting a planning application this summer, with the aim of obtaining consent by the end of 2019. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring of 2020 and take a year to complete.
HIE is now working to secure a commercial operator for the hub, with an announcement of a preferred bidder expected in the next few months.
Image: The nearest community to the proposed launch site in Sutherland is a crofting township of about 200 people (Photo courtesy of Perfect Circle PV)