Skyrora test firing of rocket in Iceland falls flat


UK-based rocket developer Skyrora has attempted to launch its suborbital Skylark L rocket from a site in Langanes, Iceland into space.

The launch attempt tested critical processes and components ahead of the company’s planned full orbital launch from the UK in 2023, which will be the first ever orbital launch from British soil.

Skylark L is 11m (36ft) tall and can carry payloads of up to 50kg (110 lbs). The rocket is capable of flying beyond 100km (62 miles) from the Earth’s surface and uses a 30kN bipropellant that can power it to reach four times the speed of sound.

The rocket was originally developed to complete final checks on subsystems prior to their use in the company’s Skyrora XL rocket. Around 70% of the technology tested in the Skylark L launch attempt will be applied to the systems of the Skyrora XL vehicle

Skryrora’s XL rocket will be double the height of L at 22m (72ft) and capable of a 315kg payload mass. The company plans to launch XL for the first time next year. The company is testing the engines for XL with a series of static fire tests in Scotland.

The vehicle left the launch pad and experienced an anomaly, landing in the Norwegian Sea approximately 500m (1,640ft)  away from the launch site.

The SkyLark L test flight in Iceland used a containerized mobile spaceport Edinburgh, Scotland-based Skyrora has developed and enabled the launch attempt to be made within seven days of arriving on site.

Lee Rosen, chief operations officer at Skyrora said, “With over three decades in the business, I can assure you that despite the best design, build, and test preparations, anomalies still unfortunately do happen.

“Skyrora’s launch attempt of Skylark L has provided the team with valuable experience in operations procedures, logistics coordination, and execution of the rapid setup and pack-down of our mobile launch complex, an experience which will propel us forward monumentally in our mission to reach orbit. We are delighted to have had the support of the Icelandic Government and the local Þórshöfn community for this launch attempt. It is a true sign of the strengthened relationship at the heart of European space efforts.”

Volodymyr Levykin, founder and CEO of Skyrora said, “Skyrora is continuously propelling itself towards UK launch. Those on site are currently completing pack-down through those challenging conditions, and we will be investigating the nature and cause of the anomaly further once that process is finished.”

“Based on what we have achieved here, we remain confident of achieving our objective of a full vertical orbital launch from UK soil in 2023.”

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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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