Skyrora completes second stage static fire test for its flagship orbital rocket


Inaugural orbital launch is scheduled for 2023 from the Saxa Vord Space Centre in Northern Scotland.

Skyrora has completed a second stage static fire test for its flagship orbital rocket, Skyrora XL. Discover Space UK at Machrihanish Airbase hosted the biggest integrated stage test to be held in the UK since those of Black Arrow and Blue Streak in the 1970s.

The test involved hot firing the second stage engine to prove the vehicle’s operational capability for its intended payloads and ensure that its performance meets all the design requirements.

Throughout the 20-second burn the single 70kN liquid engine operated within design margins and achieved the expected thrust.

“The static fire test looks, sounds and feels a lot like a rocket launch, but without lifting off! This hugely successful test was a definitive demonstration of our mobility and flexibility. Our Skyrora team went from clean tarmac to a full static fire test in just 2.5 days, bringing all the necessary equipment from our factory in Cumbernauld and test site near Gorebridge,” said Skyrora COO Lee Rosen.

Skyrora previously tested the third stage of its XL launch vehicle in December 2020, setting the mark for the first integrated stage test by a commercial launch vehicle developer in the UK. The first stage of Skyrora XL is currently in construction, with hot fire tests due to take place in mid-2023.

Volodymyr Levykin, founder and CEO of Skyrora, said, “Skyrora now has purpose-built rocket manufacturing and testing facilities in the UK – as well as the largest 3D printer of its kind, which we are using to produce rocket engine components. We recognise the value that a strong domestic space industry will bring to the UK, and we will continue to spearhead these efforts to make the UK a player to be reckoned with globally.”

As a former military base, Machrihanish Airbase hosted a US Air Force detachment of strategic bombers during WW2, and was used by RAF and NATO air forces until 1997. The airstrip at Machrihanish was also a designated emergency landing site during NASA’s space shuttle era.

Supported by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency, the completion of the second stage static fire tests fulfils a key requirement in Skyrora’s Commercial Space Transportation System (CSTS) Boost agreement.

Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said, “It’s exciting to see Skyrora complete these static fire engine tests, building on the successful opening of its new production facility in Cumbernauld,” adding, “We’ll continue to support the development of new launch infrastructure and technology, and look forward to following the next steps of Skyrora’s journey to orbit.”

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