Quarter 4, 2023 In Review

Term: November-December | Issue 6 | Date: 18th December 2023
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months.

A Letter From Our CEO

It’s hard to believe that it’s already December, but as always, Q4 of 2023 for Skyrora has been propelled by consistent movement towards an orbital launch from UK soil at the end of next year. Whether it be through crucial engine testing, announcing significant local business partnerships, or exploring collaborations with delegations from across the world, Skyrora remains steadfast in catalysing future growth for the UK space sector through the essential capability of launch.

That is why the UK Space Agency UK Space Conference in Belfast, where one of the themes was growth, provided the perfect platform for Skyrora to announce our partnership with Belfast-based Spirit AeroSystems to bolster sovereign launch capabilities. Spirit’s well-established manufacturing expertise will help actualise Skyrora’s plans to provide an agile launch service to customers globally, addressing a growing demand amongst European small and cube satellite manufacturers in the process. This collaboration will also see Skyrora provide additive manufacturing capabilities to Spirit via our hybrid 3D printer, Skyprint 2, to create a localised supply chain and reduce lead times. There’s no question that strengthening local UK capabilities is essential to the nation contending on a global scale when it comes to space, so I look forward to seeing this collaboration unfold next year.

I expect the coming year to also see Scotland further secure its prime position at the forefront of the European space tech sector. Indeed, the existing end-to-end space value chain in Scotland has helped the region grow faster than anywhere else in the UK, aiming to further grow in value to £4 billion by 2030. However, this growth would not be possible without exploring international collaborations to reinforce local activity, which is why Skyrora was pleased to host stakeholders at our manufacturing facility just outside of Glasgow this quarter, including a Swiss delegation of 15 companies and government officials, the United States Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Palmer, and members from the UK-Africa Space Technology Exchange tour. I am proud of the talented Skyrora team for consistently demonstrating our unmatched in-house capabilities in design, manufacturing, and testing to stakeholders as this is key to communicating the commercial potential of the UK space sector to the world.

Clearly, 2024 is set to be a turning point for the commercial new space sector as sovereign launch capabilities finally come to fruition. Standing on the precipice of this turning point, we are reminded of the ‘why’ behind this journey to establish sovereign launch: reducing costs and lead times for the space sector, supporting a shift towards sustainable business processes, inspiring the future generation of space leaders, and most importantly, enabling satellites to bring life-changing data back to Earth to benefit everyone, because space and all that it yields is truly for all of us.

With Minister George Freeman standing down from his post as the Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation at the end of this quarter, the space sector must remember how far we’ve come thanks to initiatives such as the implementation of the National Space Strategy, but also not forget the crucial decisions to be made ahead that will shape the industry’s success. Relevant government support in the form of funding, optimising the skills pipeline, and recognising the importance of research and development to space innovation will be central to making the nation a Science and Technology Superpower in 2024 and beyond.

With that being said, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to those currently 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. I wish you all a restful holiday season as we gear up for a monumental year of firsts for the UK space industry.

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO Skyrora Limited
Skyrora rocket engine facility in Scotland
Image Credit: Skyrora

Skyrora and Spirit to Enhance Future UK Launch Capability

Signing contract at UK space conference
Image Credit: Skyrora

Skyrora was delighted to announce a collaboration with Belfast-based Spirit AeroSystems at the UK Space Agency UK Space Conference this quarter. Focusing on developing Skyrora’s orbital launch capability, the collaboration will unlock a localised supply chain for both Spirit and Skyrora, which comprises a key element of Skyrora’s mission to create a responsible and sustainable approach to orbital launch.

Leveraging Spirit’s aerostructures expertise, the companies will explore opportunities to transition Skyrora’s orbital launch vehicles from development to full-scale production as Skyrora aims to become the first to commercially launch rockets from a vertical UK spaceport.

Collaborative goals also include the research of space technologies, particularly in additive manufacturing. Skyrora will provide Spirit with access to Skyprint 2, the largest in-house hybrid 3D printer of its kind in Europe. Located in Skyrora’s manufacturing facility in the Glasgow area, research enabled by Skyprint 2 has the potential to reduce costs and lead times for Spirit, bolster industrial cooperation, and promote growth within the UK space sector.

Read the full press release here and watch a video expanding on the collaboration here.

Skyrora welcomes international delegations to local manufacturing facility to discuss scope for commercial collaboration

Skyrora rocket manufacturing facility Glasgow
Image Credit: Skyrora

Skyrora had the pleasure of hosting several international stakeholders at the company’s manufacturing facility near Glasgow this quarter, including a Swiss delegation of 15 companies and government officials, the United States Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Palmer, and members from the UK-Africa Space Technology Exchange tour.

Politicians visiting Skyrora's rocket manufacturing facility in Glasgow
Image Credit: Skyrora

These visits provided insight into Skyrora’s unparalleled in-house capabilities in additive manufacturing, testing, and mobile launch. Not only do these capabilities enable Skyrora to offer a more flexible launch service to prospective customers, but they also encourage a shift to more sustainable business activity when it comes to space. Discussions were centred around plans for launch in 2024 with both Skyrora’s second suborbital Skylark L vehicle and orbital Skyrora XL vehicle. Skyrora takes pride in placing such an emphasis on local launch capabilities, as well as demonstrating these capabilities with incremental milestones throughout the year.

Learn more about our most recent technical milestones in engine testing here. 

Spotlight: Skyrora raises awareness of agile launch service through ITV Coverage

Skyrora Skylark L rocket launch in Iceland
Image Credit: Skyrora

The race to space often feels a million miles away, but it’s now a lot closer to home. Just outside of Glasgow, rockets are being made. Skyrora designs, manufactures, and deploys them for small satellites.

Nickie Finnegan explained to us: ‘There’s a lot of small and cube satellites waiting to be launched…with a smaller rocket and more dedicated approach you can get those satellites to space faster.’

Learn more here via ITV. 

Skyrora demonstrates thought leadership by speaking at global space conferences

UK Space conference
Image Credit: Skyrora

It’s been a busy quarter for Skyrora attending and speaking at global space conferences to engage with players from all corners of the space industry. At the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Skyrora was represented by Head of Government Affairs Alan Thompson on a panel exploring the offering of the launch sector for the European market.

Similarly, Alan was featured on another panel exploring the potential for UK launch at the UK Space Agency UK Space Conference in Belfast. Skyrora’s CEO Volodymyr Levykin also spoke on a panel exploring the impact of the Ukraine conflict on the space sector and how this has further highlighted the importance of sovereign launch capabilities to the nation.

Skyrora rocket company at the UK space conference
Image Credit: Space Scotland

Discussing these matters in real time at industry events is a valuable way to gauge the ever-evolving needs of the space sector, but it remains clear that as the sector grows, so with it does the need for a commercial launch solution to meet demand for small and cube satellite manufacturers across Europe. Skyrora looks forward to closing this market gap in the not-so-distant future.

A Quick 2023 Recap

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

November: Skyrora And Spirit To Enhance Future UK Launch Capability

October: Skyrora, ViaSat, And CGI Partner To Develop A Commercial Space-Based Launch Vehicle Telemetry Solution

July: Skyrora Hosts European Union ‘MADE 3D’ Consortium Meeting To Discuss Additive Manufacturing Innovation For Space

June: Skyrora 3D Prints and Tests New Model of Orbital Engine To Prepare For Commercial Launch