Rockets to be launched at the UK’s first spaceport, in the northern Highlands, will be built in Moray.
Private spaceflight company Orbex has bought a vacant building on Forres Enterprise Park and started a recruitment drive for highly specialised engineers.
The firm has previously said it expected its plans to launch small rockets carrying satellites from the proposed spaceport on the A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland would create around 250 new direct and indirect jobs.
Its decision to develop the technology in Moray has been hailed as a “huge boost to the local economy” by MSP Richard Lochhead
The Forres facility, which will be Orbex’s headquarters, is due to be officially opened next month at an event attended by Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency.
The company is currently recruiting six specialised engineering posts, in disciplines including avionics, propulsion and composite structures.
The £17.5million Space Hub Sutherland vertical launch site is being developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
In July 2018 Orbex announced it had secured £30m of public and private funding for the development of orbital space launch systems. The start-up company said the Prime rocket it is developing will send small satellites to altitudes of almost 800 miles.
Shortly after that announcement, Orbex chief executive Chris Larmour said: “We’re planning to launch our vehicles into orbit from Scotland, so building up a new production facility to support that activity locally makes complete sense.
“We’ve identified an excellent launch site on the north coast of Scotland and have been working with various regional and national agencies to make detailed proposals for development.”
Orbex has taken over Nova House on Forres Enterprise Park, which was previously owned by Scotland Electronics.
Mr Lochhead said: “This exciting new venture will bring high value, hi-tech jobs to Forres, which is a huge boost to the local economy and something I very much welcome.
“Moray and the Highlands are ideally positioned for the development of satellite and space related industries and there are big opportunities for expansion locally in this area going forward.”
Orbex is one of two companies expected to make use of the proposed Highland spaceport facility and plans to launch small, micro and nano satellites there.
American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is also currently developing a launch system for use at the site.
Mr Larmour was not available to comment on the company’s plans.