GERMAN rocket company HyImpulse says it now intends to carry out suborbital launches from the SaxaVord Spaceport from August next year – before going orbital in late 2025.
A suborbital launch is when a vehicle is projected high enough to reach the edge of outer space, but does not achieve orbit.
At the moment HyImpulse has permission from the CAA to carry out a launch of a suborbital rocket from Unst between 1 December this year to 30 November 2024.
The German rocket launch provider has carried out an extensive series of engine tests in Shetland over the past three years at the former Scatsta Airport site.
Although HyImpulse will attempt its maiden suborbital launch early next year from Australia, the two companies have signed a letter of intent to conduct two sub-orbital launches from Unst from August 2024 onwards.
That will be followed by the first orbital launches from late 2025 onwards, rising to full commercial operations by 2030.
It means that HyImpulse will not be using Unst as the location for the maiden launch of its SR75 rocket.
SaxaVord business development manager Robin Huber said: “HyImpulse Technologies have been an integral part of the SaxaVord journey and a fantastic supporter of our vision.
“They carried out their first tests at Scatsta in Shetland in early 2021 and have been testing and honing their technology both there and in Germany ever since.
“We are delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement for a program that will culminate in the company having a permanent presence in Unst as it gears up towards full commercial operations.”
HyImpulse co-CEO Christian Schmierer said: “We are looking forward to working with SaxaVord and expanding our operation in the UK for the work on propulsion development and testing, rocket structures and ground infrastructure in the coming months.”
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CEO Mario Kobald added: “The Shetland Isles and SaxaVord Spaceport are an integral part of HyImpulse’s journey to space.
“We have been in close collaboration with SaxaVord since 2021 and have been doing our flight motors qualification testing also on the islands. We are looking forward to carrying out our first orbital rocket launches from SaxaVord Spaceport.”
In addition to HyImpulse, satellite launch company RFA intends to operate from SaxaVord next year.
There is also the government-backed Pathfinder orbital launch, involving Lockheed Martin and ABL, which is expected to take off next year too.
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