Quarter 1, 2024 In Review

Skyrora rocket facility with engineering team
Image Credit: Skyrora

Term: January – March | Issue 7 | Date: 8 April 2024
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months

A Letter from our CEO

It’s been a promising start to 2024 for the UK space industry. In January, SaxaVord became Western Europe’s first vertical spaceport licenced for imminent orbital launches. Concurrently, the UK government unveiled its Space Industrial Plan, reaffirming its commitment to revolutionising collaboration with industry partners to advance robust space capabilities. These milestones position the industry to significantly disrupt the global space market.

At Skyrora, we have leveraged our extensive localised manufacturing and testing facilities across Scotland - the largest of their kind in the UK - to propel our robust orbital launch services in support of this disruption. In March, we completed a successful static ground demonstration test with the second stage of our orbital Skyrora XL vehicle and Viasat’s groundbreaking InRange technology, a space-based launch vehicle telemetry relay system. This test, which modelled the future full integration of the Safran transmitter onto Skyrora’s launch vehicles to transmit data to Viasat’s constellation of geostationary satellites, fulfilled an extended work package within our contract with the European Space Agency through the Boost! Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support (CSTS) Programme. This programme awarded us €3 million to support the development of our orbital Skyrora XL vehicle.

Our collaboration with UK-based partners like Viasat underscores our dedication to fulfilling the UK government’s objectives when it comes to space, particularly in driving increased investment in the domestic sector. Through the demonstration of UK launch innovations such as InRange, we are on course to position the UK as Europe's premier small satellite launch provider by 2030.

In parallel, our business team has been actively engaged in prominent global space conferences such as the Space Comm Expo in Farnborough, maintaining existing client relationships and forging new ones. This event provided the opportunity to engage with and inform Andrew Griffith, the new Minister of State for the Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology, of our larger orbital launch ambitions in partnership with ViaSat.

Discussions with Minister Griffith delved into the cost benefits associated with Skyrora’s localised development capabilities, which will enable streamlined and sustainable processes to achieve a cadence of one rocket launch per month in the long term. We also highlighted our agile approach to developing flexible launch services, exemplified by numerous successful static fire engine tests of our orbital 70 kN engine led by our team of experts in Scotland. I look forward to continuing these discussions as the government embarks on modernising its engagement with industry.

Looking ahead, Skyrora anticipates the assessment of our live launch licence application by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which will enable us to conduct launch activity within the next year and establish sovereign capabilities for the nation. Before moving into the next quarter, I would like to take a moment to express my utmost appreciation for the tenacious and talented Skyrora team, as well as those currently supporting Skyrora within the UK Government, UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Scottish Enterprise, DiT, and DFT. I look forward to our continued partnerships in the pursuit of innovation and disruption in the global space market.

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO Skyrora Limited

Skyrora Completes Successful Ground Test of Commercial Space-Based Launch Vehicle Telemetry Solution

Rocket test at Skyrora manufacturing facility
Image Credit: Skyrora

In partnership with Viasat, Skyrora completed a successful static ground demonstration test of InRange, a space-based launch vehicle telemetry system. This system aims to support the global launch industry by facilitating continuous data collection during launches, enabling mission flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

The test, conducted at Skyrora's cutting-edge manufacturing facility outside Glasgow, modelled the future full integration of the Safran transmitter onto Skyrora’s launch vehicles to transmit data to Viasat’s constellation of geostationary satellites. The over-the-air static test met all acceptance criteria. This milestone marks the fulfilment of a key work package within Skyrora's contract with the European Space Agency, secured through the Boost! Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support (CSTS) Programme, which provided €3 million in funding to support the development of the Skyrora XL vehicle.

Skyrora highly values partnerships with UK-based entities like Viasat, as they bring substantial benefits to launch service providers. InRange's innovative approach eliminates the traditional reliance on fixed ground stations, expanding the range of launch locations available to customers while reducing logistical costs associated with shipping vehicles overseas.

Moreover, Skyrora's collaboration with Viasat has the potential to support the broader UK space sector by offering a unique service to the global launch market, aligning with key objectives set by the UK government.

Learn more about the partnership here. 

Spotlight: Skyrora highlights bespoke orbital launch solution through ‘Startups Magazine’ Coverage

Skyrora rocket manufacturing facility with orbital rocket
Image Credit: Skyrora

‘Envisioning itself as a ‘space taxi’ service offering a bespoke launch solution, Skyrora aims to disrupt the current market dynamics which are dominated by major players like SpaceX.’

Read the full interview here to learn more about how Skyrora is disrupting the launch industry through a bespoke service, how Skyrora’s unique innovations in propulsion are adding value for customers, and more.  

Spotlight: Skyrora Head of Engineering Dr. JJ Marlow breaks down challenges on the journey to orbital launch through ‘Aerospace Testing International’ Coverage

Skyrora conducts rocket engine test for uk space
Image Credit: Skyrora

“We are pushing at a new frontier in the UK and this type of launch has never been done here before. No matter how many courses you do, you can never prepare for everything, there will always be unknowns.”

Read the full interview here to learn more about Skyrora’s resilience in securing a Scotland-based engine test site, our team’s rapid iterative approach to engine development, and more.

Skyrora demonstrates thought leadership and engages with UK government at global space conferences

Skyrora at a space conference with the UK government
Image Credit: Skyrora

Skyrora’s business development team has been actively speaking and engaging at several conferences this quarter to raise awareness of our service offering and explore international collaborations. At the Space Comm Expo in Farnborough, Head of Government Affairs Alan Thompson engaged with Minister of State for the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, Andrew Griffith MP to raise awareness of Skyrora’s orbital launch ambitions and how they tie into the government’s objectives, some of which were outlined in the recently released Space Industrial Plan.

Senior Business Development Associate Rosie Hull and Business Operations Manager Derek Harris both spoke on panels at the inaugural LEAP event hosted by the Scottish Space Network, which celebrated Scotland’s giant leap into the space sector.

Head of Communications Nickie Finnegan also spoke on two panels focusing on the UK launch market and spaceport development at the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) National Student Space Conference in Bristol and the UK Space Cluster Event at the University of Edinburgh. As a bronze sponsor of UKSEDS, Skyrora values the opportunity to engage with the next generation of space leaders.