Quarter 1, 2023 in Review

Skyrora engine fleet
Image Credit: Skyrora

Term: January-March | Issue 6 | Date: 4th April 2023
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months.

A Letter From Our CEO

It has been a productive start to the year at Skyrora as we progress our mission to bring flexible sovereign launch to the UK. Over the past three months, Skyrora has led discussions at global industry events about our mission and plans to expand our presence internationally, while significant advancements continue at home to prepare for landmark test and launch activity within the coming year.

Skyrora’s 2023 is set to continue an upward trajectory as we will be conducting a series of static fire tests of our first and second stage 70 kN engines to push forward the technological readiness of our orbital vehicle, Skyrora XL. The successful qualification of these engines represents a key milestone in alignment with ESA’s Boost! Programme, which continues to support Skyrora on our journey to orbit.

I am hopeful that these significant activities will complement the submission of our orbital launch license, allowing us to make history by qualifying Skyrora as the first UK-based company to conduct a vertical orbital launch from the country. Skyrora has been working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that we meet all necessary requirements for such a license, demonstrating our ability to design and manufacture rockets to the highest safety standards.

Throughout our mission to bolster the UK’s sovereign launch capabilities, Skyrora has had the privilege to develop a strong relationship with the CAA, UK Space Agency, and further teams within the UK Government and beyond, fostering a level of collaboration which is crucial to position the UK as a key player within the global space industry.

We were delighted to further this collaboration this quarter through hosting several visits at our engine manufacturing facility in Scotland for UK Space Agency Deputy CEO, Ian Annett and UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Director for Space, Rebecca Evernden. We also hosted international guests such as Ambassador Markus Leitner alongside his colleagues from the Embassy of Switzerland to push forward global business collaboration, which we always welcome.

Given Skyrora’s regular work alongside the UK Government, I am delighted to see the appointment of Michelle Donelan MP as Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology this quarter. In her new role supporting George Freeman, Minister of Science, Research, and Innovation, Donelan will be instrumental in shaping the UK government’s science and innovation strategy through the recently released framework looking to make the UK a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030, in turn influencing the support offered to the UK space sector in its upcoming activity. Together, Donelan and Freeman have the potential to drive forward a new era of scientific innovation in the UK, sharing an invaluable combination of expertise and experience. The UK space industry has a proud but limited history; therefore this appointment leaves the UK poised to build on its legacy, using space as both the means and the end to becoming a Science and Technology Superpower.

As we enter a busy second quarter in which Skyrora will further embark on our commercial journey to bring flexible UK launch to clients worldwide, I must extend my gratitude to those supporting Skyrora within the UK Government, as well as other stakeholders including the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Scottish Enterprise, DiT, and DFT. Finally, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the team at Skyrora, who continue to prove their passion and dedication to the UK space industry and to Skyrora’s mission. I am incredibly proud of the innovation we have achieved thus far and look forward to watching the team continue this trend of significant progress throughout 2023.

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO Skyrora Limited

Skyrora’s Unique End to End Launch Service Highlighted in WIRED Feature

In a factory on the outskirts of Glasgow, aerospace manufacturer Skyrora is building a rocket-based taxi service for satellites.

This quarter, Skyrora is proud to have been featured in WIRED, an American publication known for showcasing emerging technologies that are shaping the future. Based on an exclusive interview with Skyrora CEO Volodymyr Levykin, the piece outlines Skyrora’s unique approach to dedicated launch and how this caters to a niche global market in contrast to SpaceX’s rideshare approach:

“There’s so much information that can be collected from space that can be actioned in real-time across verticals, from farming to insurance. We just arrange the transport.”

“SpaceX is more like a bus service; you can only use it with other passengers. We’re like a taxi: we can depart when the customer wants…We’re addressing the niche for customers who don’t want to share their payload with others.”

“New Space is the next era of technology. Eyes in the sky are the future, alongside new connectivity, and ideas. Space is impacted by Earth’s geopolitics: you want your own capabilities and transport to play your own part.”

Read the full article here.

Skyrora Demonstrates Thought Leadership in Launch through Speaking at Global Conferences

Skyrora team at conferences

The Skyrora business development team has been busy attending and speaking at space conferences globally this quarter to increase awareness of our flexible end-to-end launch services.

On 6th February, Skyrora’s CEO and Founder Volodymyr Levykin spoke on a panel at the LEAP 2023 conference in Saudi Arabia alongside other space tech leaders to discuss navigating the global space industry as a startup.

This was followed by Paris Space Week from 9th-10th March, SATELLITE 2023 from 13th-16th March in Washington DC, and the Northeast Space Conference in Durham on 22nd March, where it was great to catch up with existing clients and make connections with prospective ones across the globe.

It was great to close out the quarter at the Times Tech Summit on 23rd March in London, where Volodymyr Levykin spoke with Jamie Nimmo about the priorities of the UK new space sector and how launch is central to addressing these priorities.

With the space industry constantly evolving, it is always useful to connect and collaborate at events to enable diverse players to come together in positioning Europe as a global space technology leader.

Skyrora Hosts Visits from Key Players Across the Global Space Industry at the UK’s Largest Rocket Engine Manufacturing Facility

Skyrora was honoured to host UK Space Agency Deputy CEO, Ian Annett; UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Director for Space, Rebecca Evernden; and Ambassador Markus Leitner alongside his colleagues from the Embassy of Switzerland at our engine manufacturing facility just outside of Glasgow this quarter.

These visits provided valuable insight into Skyrora’s swift technical development as we look to establish sovereign launch capabilities for the UK, featuring our in-house hybrid 3D printers, stages of our orbital vehicle, and our suborbital launch vehicle, Skylark L.

This cutting-edge hardware paired with our additive manufacturing capabilities will help the UK to establish a localised end-to-end space value chain, enabling the UK to contend on a global scale within the space industry and ultimately yield widespread economic benefits.

Skyrora welcomes any opportunity to showcase the rapid advancement of our launch services, which act as one of the key elements comprising Scotland’s thriving space sector. These services are set to benefit clients across the world. 

Skyrora Recognized for Technical Excellence as MELCC 2023 Business Awards ‘Best Innovation in Business’ Finalist

Skyrora was excited to be identified by the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce (MELCC) as one of Scotland’s most innovative businesses this quarter through our nomination as a finalist for the ‘Best Innovation in Business’ category. This title is granted to companies that are successfully demonstrating innovation through novel business processes.

Skyrora always seeks to push the envelope when it comes to launch vehicle design and performance. This is evident in our re-ignitable third stage engine, which can deliver payloads to a wide range of orbital inclinations upon reaching space. We have also implemented responsible design and development processes to minimise waste, emissions, and energy consumption. Our flagship orbital rocket Skylark L is designed to use a fuel mix that produces 45% less CO2 emissions than most other launches. In addition, we have constructed our own in-house hybrid 3D printers, Skyprint 1 and Skyprint 2, allowing us to develop our rocket engines through additive manufacturing to reduce wasted resources.

We are grateful to be recognized within space sustainability and innovation and look forward to maintaining excellence within these fields as the year progresses.