Skyrora, the company, which aims to cater for the small satellite market by providing low-cost access to space from a UK spaceport, is working hard to finalise plans for an inaugural test of their of sub-orbital launch vehicle.
Using technology inspired by Black Arrow – a British satellite carrier rocket developed in the 1960s – the launch vehicle (named Skyrora 1) will run on hydrogen peroxide and kerosene and will have a maximum payload of 150 kilograms. Its thrust at sea level will be capable of producing 30 kiloNewtons.
The launch vehicle is also capitalising on advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing to build its rocket components - a technique that has the advantages of cutting costs and speeding up development time.
The company have already started developing a sounding rocket to test their technology and have entered into strategic partnerships with a number of key companies, including Scottish spaceport development companies, Westcott based European Astrotech, launch broker Commercial Space Technologies and the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre in order to get Skyrora off the ground.
“This is a huge year for Skyrora, and the timing is ideal because the UK sector has really burst into life in recent months - space is more topical now than it has been for decades in Britain. The opportunity to engage with the local supply chain over the past year and now to prepare to show something real to the market as a result of that work is incredibly exciting for us!,” said Business Development Director Daniel Smith.
How close are the company to realising their ambition of launching a rocket from the UK sometime soon? “It's never a good idea to put dates out in public so we are a little wary of this, but our strategy has always been to share information wherever possible and we're sticking to that for now!" explained Smith.
"We do believe, if the winter weather provides us with a decent launch window, we'll be able to perform a first test of our systems from Scotland. The aim here is to do everything safely, sensibly and in line with regulations, so we are taking a step-by-step approach, but we need to test key elements of our design to keep our momentum going.” He later added, “The Space Bill and UK spaceport plans have brought about a new kind of space race - a commercial one.”