Skyrora calls on Icelandic Government to allow test launch


UK-based rocket company Skyrora has called on the Icelandic Government to grant a licence allowing the launch of its Skylark L rocket from its soil.

The launch from Husavik, Iceland would be the largest ever conducted in Europe and was originally scheduled for September 2021. However according to Skyrora the Icelandic government is yet to grant the necessary licence.

The test launch is the next step towards the company’s goal of completing the first full orbital rocket launch from UK soil using its three-stage Skyrora XL rocket in early 2023.

The SkyLark L test flight will use a containerized mobile spaceport Edinburgh, Scotland-based Skyrora has developed that it says enables the team to arrive at the site and launch in just seven days later.

An agreement between the UK and Iceland exists that secures support for UK launch activities from Iceland. The agreement also supports enhanced cooperation between the two countries on research and student mobility, with funding made available for Icelandic students to study a spaceflight-related Masters course at a UK university.

Jack-James Marlow, head of engineering at Skyrora said, “The launch would build a strong relationship between Iceland and the UK. The support from the community in Thorshavn and around the Langanes Peninsula has been tremendous, offering cranes, fabrication hardware, and local accommodation.

“We have also worked closely with aviation authorities to ensure public safety and put a mission in place to recover vehicles from the ocean, which is important from an environmental sustainability perspective. Now we just require a launch licence from the government to put these plans into action.”

Skylark L is 11m tall and carries a payload mass of 50kg. It is the first Skyrora rocket capable of flying beyond 100km from the Earth’s surface and uses a 30kN bipropellant capable of reaching 3.5 times the speed of sound.

Originally developed to complete final checks on subsystems prior to their use in the company’s Skyrora XL rocket, Skylark L is also being used by universities and research facilities to conduct microgravity experiments at a lower cost than an orbital vehicle.

This latest launch, when it happens, will see the Technology Readiness Level of the vehicle reach the final stage required for commercial readiness ahead of the planned launch of  Skyrora XL rocket, which will be capable of a 315kg payload mass.

Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora’s founder and CEO said “With the site completed we are now ready to launch, but we still require a licence from the Icelandic government to realize the significant investment behind this project.

“We had hoped that the signing of the Memorandum would accelerate and smooth the approval process for this launch, so it’s disappointing to have been delayed for nearly a year after so much support from the local community.

“Geographically, Iceland is positioned perfectly to open a new Space corridor for Europe and the nation possesses the crucial expertise to make an impact in the smaller launch market.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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