Skyrora secures €3m to build and launch its rockets from Scotland

25 Mar 2021

Image: Skyrora

The company will invest the funds in completing its Skyrora XL rocket as it prepares for a test launch in 2022.

Skyrora, a Scottish spacetech start-up, has landed €3m in funding partly from the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Edinburgh start-up wants to be the first UK company to launch satellites from Europe. Developing the UK’s space industry is a key ambition of the government, which aims to account for 10pc of the world’s space market by 2030.

Skyrora is building a rocket called the Skyrora XL for this launch. It is a 23-metre rocket that weighs 56 tonnes and can carry 315kg into orbit. The company plans to do a test launch in 2022, having already completed tests of sounding rockets and static fire tests of its suborbital vehicle.

Meanwhile the start-up’s Space Tug vehicle is being tested as a way to collect debris and space junk left behind by satellites and other rockets.

The funding comes from the ESA’s Boost programme for commercial space enterprises and will be invested in further building and development of the rocket. The company is also supported by the UK Space Agency and it expects to create 170 jobs in the UK through this project.

“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 the first and second stages of Skyrora XL,” chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said.

“Our pioneering work on championing environmental spaceflight, our proprietary eco-fuel and green innovations – together with the support of the European Space Agency and UK Space Agency – will help establish the UK not only as a world leader in space technology but the greenest space industry in the world too.”

The start-up is being advised by Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station.

“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,” Peake said.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin