Scotland Current Affairs

Sutherland: UK selects Scottish site for first spaceport

UK Space Agency has selected site at Sutherland on A’Mhoine peninsula on north coast of Scotland for its first spaceport to launch rockets vertically and put satellites in orbit. For development of this spaceport, UK Government is going to provide $3.3 million funding and will be built with help of consortium of companies.

Key Facts

A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland was chosen as most suitable place from which to launch rockets vertically. The first rocket launches from this spaceport are planned for early 2020s. The site was selected in part due to its beneficial geography. Rockets can take direct path from tip of Scottish peninsula to above Arctic Circle. This is suitable for launching small satellites particularly, which are often placed in polar orbits, circling Earth and passing over Arctic and Antarctic. It is located on coast in sparsely populated area, thus in case of failures rocket will harmlessly fall into the ocean or empty land.

Comment

The spaceport will help UK to grab slice of growing market for small satellite launches. UK already has many component and satellite makers and adding ability to launch satellites locally would increase its international appeal. The spaceport will help to attract $5 billion spaceflight market into UK’s economy over the next decade.

In recent years, new breed of small satellites (nano satellites) have created boom in space launch industry. These satellites are often size of shoebox or smaller and far more technologically capable than older, larger models. They are cheaper to launch and can be put to range of uses from communications to weather monitoring to scientific experiments. It’s estimated that global market for such launches (including supporting infrastructure) is currently worth $339 billion, and will grow eightfold by 2045 to $2.7 trillion.

Month: Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018

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World’s first wind farm being built off Scotland coast

The world’s first full—scale floating wind farm is being built off the coast of Scotland in the North Sea. The wind farm, known as Hywind is a trial project which aims to bring power to 20,000 homes.

The floating wind farm technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters that are too deep for the existing bottom—standing turbines particularly installed in shallow waters.

Significance

Unlike normal turbines, floating turbines are not attached to the seabed by foundations. Rather, they are attached by long mooring tethers, allowing them to be placed in deep water. Traditional fixed turbines work best at a depth of 20-50m on stationary base.

Key Facts

The park will be around four square kilometers in size in deep sea. Each turbine in the park will be floating at a depth of between 95 and 120 metres.  Each turbine tower, including the blades in the floating wind park is 175m high and weighs 11,500 tonnes. It uses a large buoy filled with iron ore to weight the base to keep it upright. The turbines also make use of new blade technology, which twits the blades in order to lessen the impact of wind, waves and currents to hold turbine tower upright.

Benefits

The turbines in the floating wind farm can operate in water up to a kilometre deep. The power output is also larger than power generation from current stationary turbines. This revolutionary tech development project will demonstrate workability of floating wind farm technology in open sea conditions and also help to bring costs down.

Month: Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018

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