Skyrora set for orbital launches with €3m ESA co-funding

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Skyrora is on course to be the first UK company to launch satellites from Europe following the receipt of €3m of co-funding from the European Space Agency (ESA).

Image: Skyrora

The funding, part of the ESA’s Boost! program, will be used by Edinburgh-based Skyrora to complete the technology required to deliver orbital launches from the UK with its XL launch vehicle.

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Skyrora XL is a 23m 56-tonne three-stage rocket capable of carrying up to 315kg into orbit. The vehicle is on course to be test-launched in 2022 from a UK spaceport.

“We draw huge inspiration from the British engineers who led the way on the Black Arrow programme, and we are thrilled to be advancing their pioneering work at Skyrora for the benefit of the UK,” said Dr Jack-James Marlow, Skyrora’s head of engineering for Skyrora.

This project plans to create over 170 high-skilled jobs in the UK and deliver a more environmentally platform with Ecosene, Skyrora’s proprietary eco-fuel that will remove over 3,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic waste by 2030. Skyrora is also said to have conducted several successful trials of Space Tug, which is its solution for clearing debris and removing defunct satellites from orbit.

Volodymyr Levykin, founder and CEO of Skyrora, said: “I am delighted that the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency support our programme, which has, to date, delivered outstanding achievements: four successful launches, with two more ready for launch; the establishment of manufacturing and engine test facilities throughout Scotland; and the static fire test of our orbital third stage.

“ESA’s funding will allow us to complete the set-up of our larger Engine Test Complex, complete our 70kN engine programme and static fire test fire the first and second stages of Skyrora XL.”

“This is great news for Skyrora as it takes another major step in bringing green small satellite launch capability to Scotland,” added Ivan McKee MSP, trade and innovation minister.  “Our aim for Scotland is to secure a slice of the $400bn global space market by 2030, remaining committed to our climate change targets and becoming a net zero society by 2045.”