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Space / Watch: Rocket company completes more testing ahead of first sub-orbital launch

A GERMAN rocket company has completed its eighth engine testing at the former Scatsta airport ahead of what it hopes will be the first suborbital launch from the SaxaVord Spaceport later this year.

The testing, carried out by HyImpulse, was watched by various industry and economic representatives, including the UK and European space agencies, as well as politicians.

Following the successful round of testing HyImpulse will prepare for its first suborbital launch of its sounding rocket technology demonstrator in the latter half of 2023.

The company said this would be a “huge milestone” for HyImpulse and also for UK, as it will be the largest rocket launched vertically from the UK and from SaxaVord Spaceport.

A suborbital launch is when a vehicle is projected high enough to reach the edge of outer space, but does not achieve orbit.

Vertical orbital launches are planned from Unst later in the year. Small satellites will be sent into space.

Christian Schmierer, co-CEO of HyImpulse, said: “With this latest round of testing, we are another step closer to achieving our demonstrator launch.

“We are delighted to host the UK Space Agency so that they can see our technology in action.

“This hybrid system, demonstrated today, will be a game changer for reducing the cost of access to space, getting small satellites where they need to go safely and on-demand.”

SaxaVord CEO Frank Strang said the spaceport team looks forward to “supporting the next steps in their [HyImpulse’s] development later this year, which will be the first suborbital launch from SaxaVord Spaceport”.

“I am sure this will generate huge excitement and interest and be a significant landmark both for HyImpulse and our spaceport in Shetland,” he said.

UK Space Agency’s deputy chief executive officer Ian Annett said HyImpulse and companies from “across the globe are attracted to the UK’s thriving space sector which already supports nearly 49,000 jobs across the country and generates an income of £17.5 billion for our economy”.

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Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael was among the political representatives who visited the test site and also went to Unst for a look at the spaceport construction.

He said progress in the space sector will help to establish “quality, durable jobs” in the Northern Isles.

“It reinforces just how important the Northern Isles remain for the UK economically and strategically,” Carmichael added.

“Now is the time for our governments to come together to back the Shetland site fully.”

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