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Space / Rocket company moves step closer to Unst launch

AN EDINBURGH based rocket company has carried out a static engine test ahead of launching satellites from the SaxaVord Spaceport next year.

Skyrora carried out what it called a “monumental event” at an airbase in Argyll.

The company said it was another step towards its first orbital launch, planned for 2023 from Unst.

The test involved Skyrora’s flagship XL orbital vehicle, and it aimed to prove its operational capability for intended payloads.

The single 70kN liquid engine achieved the expected thrust needed to carry it into space.

While Skyrora intends to be the first British company to launch vertically into space, the government-backed Pathfinder project involving Lockheed Martin and US rocket company ABL is planned to be the first vertical satellite launch from UK soil, also from Unst.

Skyrora CEO and founder Volodymyr Levykin said: “With the UK striving to capture a 10 per cent share of the global space market by 2030, the successful Skyrora XL second stage static fire test puts Skyrora on track to become a key part of the UK’s new space industry as the first British company to conduct vertical launch from UK soil.

“Skyrora now has purpose-built rocket manufacturing and testing facilities in the UK – as well as the largest 3D printer of its kind, which we are using to produce rocket engine components.”

Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “We’ll continue to support the development of new launch infrastructure and technology and look forward to following the next steps of Skyrora’s journey to orbit.”

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