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Edinburgh spacetech company bags £2.5M to launch satellites from Europe

Image credits: Skyrora

Edinburgh-based spacetech startup Skyrora is in the headlines as it secured €3 million (nearly £2.5 million) co-funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) as a part of its ESA’s Boost! program.

Pioneer to launch satellites from Europe

Skyrora will use the investment to complete the crucial technology that is required to deliver consistent orbital launches from the UK with Skyrora’s XL launch vehicle. It ensures that the company can complete the development of its rocket technology. With the investment, the spacetech company intends to create over 170 high-skilled jobs in the UK. It will also be used to complete the technology required to deliver consistent orbital launches from within the UK.

Volodymyr Levykin, founder and CEO of Skyrora, said: “This ESA contract will accelerate Skyrora’s progress on its journey to be the first to achieve the UK’s sovereign orbital launch. ESA’s funding will allow us to complete the set up of our larger Engine Test Complex, complete our 70kN engine programme and static fire test fire the first and second stages of Skyrora XL.”

Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station and an Advisor to Skyrora, said: “Independent access to space is vital for the UK to realise the full potential of its space industry and this exciting announcement for Skyrora brings us a big step closer to achieving that goal. Skyrora is bringing innovation and growth to the space sector, whilst setting new benchmarks for reducing carbon emissions. I’m delighted that ESA has awarded Skyrora this contract to support providing a new space transportation system for Europe.”

Dr. Jack-James Marlow, Head of Engineering for Skyrora, said: “ESA’s funding award will enable Skyrora to significantly accelerate the pace at which we can complete the next stages on our technological roadmap and become the first UK company to launch satellites from Europe. We draw huge inspiration from the British engineers who led the way on the Black Arrow programme, and we are thrilled to be advancing their pioneering work at Skyrora for the benefit of the UK.”

Amanda Solloway, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation, said: “The UK’s space industry is thriving and we have bold ambitions to be Europe’s leading destination for small satellite launches, developing world class commercial spaceflight capability up and down the country. Today’s funding for two of our most innovative space businesses is not only a step forward for UK spaceflight, but it will also help to create highly skilled jobs and local opportunities as we build back better from the pandemic.”

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said: “This funding is great news for the UK space sector and will ensure companies such as Skyrora really are at the forefront of the European space industry. This support to our thriving space sector, alongside our flexible regulations and strong international agreements, means the UK is well placed to benefit from the new commercial opportunities UK launch will bring.”

Test launch set for 2022

Notably, Skyrora XL is the company’s largest launch vehicle. It is a 23-meter, 56-tonne, three-stage rocket that can carry up to 315 kg into orbit. What’s notable is that the company intends to carry out a test launch in 2022 from a UK spaceport. The funding puts Skyrora on track to be the first UK company to launch satellites from Europe.

Founded in 2017 by Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora has completed four successful launches with two more ready to go. It has also demonstrated static fire tests of its orbital third stage, making the firm the most advanced UK launch company.