Skyrora, the independent rocket maker, has announced its plans to open a new engine test facility in Scotland. The facility is a significant step towards a full rocket launch that is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021. It will be dedicated to finishing burn and gimbal tests of its 30kN rocket engine. If the launch is successful, Skyrora will make it into the record books as the first company to have completed an orbital launch from Western Europe. Volodymyr Levykin, CEO and founder, Skyrora, has commented that this is a massive milestone for the company and represents the start of its test program for its larger engines, adding that their team has worked incredibly hard to develop the company’s engine technologies so that it can help make space more accessible to all.
Founded in 2017, Skyrora uses a combination of traditional and additive manufacturing technologies when producing its engines and vehicles. The company was also working on developing a proprietary hybrid manufacturing system that combines robotics, 3D printing, and CNC milling, although it is currently at the prototype stage. The company is presently developing two rockets, the Skyrora 1 suborbital launch vehicle, and the Skyrora XL that has been designed for orbital launches. The official site of the new test facility has not been confirmed yet. During the announcement, the company also mentioned that it is considering many options and looking for a place that will be suitable for the plant, which will provide the company with access to skills.
Recently, in a move that significantly advanced the launch plans of the XL, a third-stage test firing was successfully performed for the Leo, a precursor to the engine that will be responsible for eventually propelling the rocket into orbit. The Leo is said to be “the first commercially fully 3D printed bi-liquid rocket engine to be tested in the UK” and can produce 3.5 kN of thrust. It was test-fired at the Newquay Airport in collaboration with Spaceport Cornwall. After its success, Skyrora has affirmed its plans to begin testing of a more powerful, 3-ton thrust additive manufactured engine, which might be undertaken in Scotland.