16 June 2020
Scottish space firm notches new first with latest rocket launch
By Jane Cassidy
A ROCKET has been successfully launched for the first time from Scotland’s most northerly islands.
Rocket firm Skyrora launched the two-metre Skylark Nano rocket, which reached an altitude of six kilometres, from Fethaland Peninsula on the mainland of Shetland.
Edinburgh-based Skyrora, which hopes to operate from one of the three proposed spaceports in Scotland, carried out the suborbital launch on Saturday.
Launching commercial rockets from Shetland in the future is a potential option. The launch was completed for educational purposes, including collecting meteorological data, measuring wind profiles, analysing the vehicle’s trajectory and providing critical training in support of Skyrora’s future plans.
It comes after Skyrora successfully completed a full static fire test on their Skylark-L launch vehicle last month.
Skylark Nano’s first launch took place in Ross-shire, Scottish Highlands in summer 2018.
Skyrora, which hopes to make the UK a “rocket launching nation”, is developing launch vehicle technology, with the aim of reducing launch costs, and looking to create 170 jobs by the end of 2023. Robin Hague, head of the launch, said: “The launch signifies a vital step towards Skyrora’s ambitions to become the UK’s ‘go-to’ satellite launch provider. We’re ecstatic and truly proud.
“This is a great success for Skylark Nano, and the Skyrora team in general. Launching from Shetland is very important for us because it’s a potential option for our Skyrora XL orbital commercial launch vehicle.
“To understand the local launch conditions, learning more about the wind profiles in Shetland is critical.
“Skylark Nano’s third successive launch is testament to the engineers who have worked tirelessly to bring to life a reusable rocket that can provide valuable intelligence for the future of the UK space programme.”
Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora CEO, said: “With this successful launch from Shetland we are further closing the gap to making the UK a rocket launching nation again.
“For Skyrora this test was all about learning and training. The innovation at Skyrora is enormous, not only are we producing high quality results, but we are doing so with minimum impact to the environment as we strive to develop eco-friendly technology in our launches.
“At a time of such uncertainty it is important we keep focusing on ingenuity and enterprise.
“We hope reaching space will inspire the
whole nation and show the younger generation
what the future of UK space holds.”