The private launch vehicle market is currently dominated by a few big names like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Rocket Lab but with more than 10,000 smallsats predicted to be launched worldwide over the next 10 years new players are joining the field, potentially offering smaller and more cost-effective launchers and launch services. One of these, Edinburgh-based UK launch vehicle designer, manufacturer, and service operator Skyrora has already completed one successful suborbital test launch and is rapidly developing the elements of its new orbital and suborbital launch vehicles.
Skyrora aims to achieve one of the first-ever orbital launches from western Europe. It has already started a programme of low altitude test launches to evaluate equipment and gain experience in parallel with full-scale engine testing for its orbital vehicle. The current development and test phase is planned to lead to a liquid-fuelled suborbital sounding rocket, followed by a fully-fledged orbital vehicle. The company’s designs for the first domestic British satellite launch vehicle in half a century are already in the public domain.
Skyrora plans to offer launch services for small satellites of up to 335 kg to polar and sun-synchronous orbits launching from one of three candidate launch sites in the north of Scotland. Its primary focus at the moment, however, is on technology development.