Quarter 2, 2022 in Review

Second Stage of Skyrora XL
Second Stage of Skyrora XL

Term: April-June | Issue 4 | Date: June 30th, 2022

A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months. 

A Letter From Our CEO

Halfway through 2022: Celebrating Half a Decade of Skyrora

As Skyrora reaches five years of operation this June, it brings me immense pride to reflect on the monumental progress and growth which we have fostered. Key accomplishments thus far include numerous successful suborbital launches, static fire engine testing central to the development of our orbital rocket, and the opening of new facilities in the UK and beyond. The innovation and formidable engineering that we have observed over these past five years solidifies the likelihood that Skyrora will achieve orbital launch in 2023.

I must emphasise at this juncture that Skyrora’s success to date would simply not have been possible without the hard work of our passionate and talented team. This team will lead us forward through Skyrora’s next five years, which are set to change the course of the UK space industry. I am especially inspired to see the dedication and resilience displayed by our Ukrainian team members. As the commercial and defence industry continues to evolve globally, it is clear now more than ever that sovereign, mobile and flexible launch is crucial, and I look forward to seeing Skyrora become a leading provider of this capability.

In particular, the static fire test of our 70 kN engine this quarter, which will be featured in the first and second stages of our orbital Skyrora XL vehicle, represents a significant stride towards the commercial implementation of Skyrora’s sovereign launch capabilities. Conducted at our new state-of-the-art local engine testing facility, the completion of this milestone in line with ESA’s Boost! Programme has unlocked the next round of qualification tests, helping Skyrora to progress further on our journey to orbit.

Additionally, I am delighted that in further consolidation of Skyrora’s future is the appointment of new Chief Operations Officer Lee Rosen. Having directly contributed to over 150 launches over the course of his career as a highly experienced engineer, space operator, and acquisition professional, Rosen is set to provide key expertise from his launch and military backgrounds and guide Skyrora to orbit.

As we enter Quarter 3 of 2022 and beyond, the collective New Space sector is set to experience long-term market growth as launch and satellite capabilities are becoming increasingly crucial in a variety of sectors. Skyrora’s capacity for rapid, responsive launch comprises a key aspect of the value chain responsible for delivering satellites into orbit to achieve government objectives and conduct missions including Earth Observation, communication, and navigation, among many more. It is clear that the New Space industry provides imperative resources central to life on Earth, resources which will only grow in their importance and relevancy.

I would like to conclude by thanking our stakeholders, including representatives of UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Scottish Enterprise, DiT, and DFT, for the past five years of growth, collaboration, and promotion of New Space within the UK. Without you, five years would not have been possible! Similarly, I must end by again thanking the Skyrora team for the resilience, talent, and passion they have displayed over the last five years. Here’s to another five!

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO Skyrora Limited

Skyrora Completes 70 kN Tests in Line With ESA’s Boost! Programme

Skyrora’s test site in Midlothian

Skyrora is thrilled to have successfully conducted the latest in a series of 16 tests on our 70kN rocket engine, which will be featured in the first and second stages of our orbital Skyrora XL vehicle. The outcome of this 20-second-long test has initiated the upscaling of our manufacturing process, with engine qualification tests now set to take place weekly. Moreover, the completion of this test marks a significant milestone under our contract with the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support Programme. Our involvement with this programme offers Skyrora access to a further round of qualification testing.

With the support of ESA’s Boost! Programme, this orbital engine was designed and manufactured entirely in-house and, boasting a unique design, is set to be the first of its kind following qualification. Housed on the first and second stages of the Skyrora XL, the successful testing of this engine plays a critical part in Skyrora’s journey to orbit.

The engine test was completed at Skyrora’s test site located in Midlothian. This ground-breaking facility measures over 120,000 square feet, more than the size of two football fields. The development and use of this state-of-the-art facility sits in alignment with Skyrora’s sustainability objectives. In-house manufacturing capabilities alongside a local testing facility results in a significant reduction in Skyrora’s carbon footprint, eliminating the need to transport materials to and from third-party facilities. The Skyrora team looks forward to future engine tests central to our mission to reach orbit!

Watch the full test here.

SpaceX and US Air Force Veteran Lee Rosen Joins Skyrora as Chief Operations Officer

Lee Rosen with Skyrora Space Tug

Skyrora is delighted to have appointed Lee Rosen as Chief Operations Officer. Lee brings to the team a wealth of knowledge and experience, having spent 23 years in the US Air Force and more recently 11 years at SpaceX as VP of Mission and Launch Operations and Customer Operations and Integration. A veteran of over 150 missions, the Skyrora team is confident that with this exciting addition to the team, our aim to conduct 16 launches per year by 2030 can become a reality.

Lee Rosen is a highly experienced engineer, space operator, and acquisition professional. After earning a Bachelor of Science from the US Air Force Academy, Rosen went on to obtain master’s degrees from the Air Force Institute of Technology, University of North Dakota, Air Command and Staff College, and the National Defence University. These academic credits were employed throughout his 23-year long tenure with the US Air Force, during which Rosen completed command tours at the 4th Space Launch Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Station in California, and 45th Launch Group, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, with multiple tours in the National Reconnaissance Office and Space and Missiles Systems Centre.

Lee Rosen, Elon Musk, and Barak Obama
Photo Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

After retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel, Rosen spent over 10 years with SpaceX, leading the construction of the Vanderberg Launch Site for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. During this time, he fulfilled roles such as Vice President of Mission & Launch Operations, then Vice President of Customer Operations and Integration, which saw Rosen responsible for mission management and operation of the Dragon Spacecraft including Astronaut Training.

Skyrora is delighted to have Rosen come onboard the team, and we are hopeful that his appointment will ensure Skyrora’s success in the execution of the first sovereign launch from the UK.

Skyrora’s Engineering Excellence is Recognized Through Multiple Awards and Nominations

Skyrora team in kilts

The second quarter of 2022 has seen Skyrora earn awards and nominations from various organisations recognising the innovation and commitment to sustainability that we work hard to maintain. The Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce awarded the team with the Innovative Business of the Year Award, and we were further nominated as a finalist for the Environmental Business of the Year Award.

In the same month, Skyrora saw nominations for the Made in Scotland Award and was shortlisted for the Engineering Tech Company of the Year award. Our final achievement came toward the end of April, winning the Boldest Space Frontier Award. Such recognition is invaluable to both Skyrora team members and beyond, highlighting the importance of environmental launch and innovation in UK New Space and further demonstrating Skyrora’s leadership stance within the UK space industry.