Quarter 1 in Review
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months.
A letter from our CEO
Skyrora Responds to Coronavirus
Taking every measure possible to help combat the disease, Skyrora have re-allocated a small percentage of our staff to manufacture various forms of personal protective equipment while still adhering to social distancing measures. These include hand sanitiser and 3D printed face visors, which will be distributed to the NHS within the coming weeks.
We are also looking into the possibility of repurposing our HTP supply to produce a HTP disinfectant, whereby the hydrogen peroxide would be vaporised to disinfect used face masks. Additionally, Skyrora are investigating how we can utilise our 3D printers in the fight against Covid-19, specifically with regard to the production of ventilators.
We are complying with Government recommendations having sent our workforce home a number of weeks ago to continue operations remotely. The adaptability of our systems has allowed for a smooth transition for our personnel to comply with social distancing and self-isolation requirements.
Only essential staff who are actively working to produce products that support the Government will continue to work on site with meticulous safety precautions. Our efforts to support the NHS has led to the production and testing of our first batch of hand-sanitisers. Output will increase after confirmation is received that we have met WHO standards. Testing is also being carried out this week into our 3D printed face visors to provide for critical care in hospitals around the UK. It is our commitment as a company to work together across industries using our unique capabilities to aid the healthcare services.
We would like to thank all the critical personnel who are working during this pandemic as well as everyone who is stay at home and keeping to the social distancing rules. Our collective efforts will get us through these challenging times.
In relation to Skyrora as a rocket company, inevitably there will be some disruptions to events and test/launch dates will be postponed as we monitor the situation. Though unfortunate, this time will be used effectively for the advancement of our technology and focus on essential planning activities.
CEO Skyrora Limited
Please stay safe in the meantime and Skyrora will continue to keep you updated on our efforts.
COVID-19: What Skyrora are doing to help
In the battle against coronavirus, we have re-structured our manufacturing division and allocated engineering personnel to start producing face visors using 3D printing facilities and producing hand sanitiser according to the World Health Organisation’s Guidelines.
Skyrora have completed the application to gain a license that will allow us to commercially mass produce this hand sanitiser, having completed the first batch of hand gel to WHO standards and guidelines. For Skyrora, it is now simply a matter of scaling up this production to over 10,000, 250ml bottles of hand sanitiser per week.
Skyrora are currently in discussion with the Scottish Government to determine where our 3D printed face visors will have the most beneficial impact in protecting health workers. We have produced 25 face visors so far and this week we will send them for testing and CE approval before looking to mass produce the protective equipment.
The beginning of the year saw a number of firsts for Skyrora. Not only did we launch our first ever weather balloons, we also completed the first successful tests of our plastic waste eco-fuel on the smallest but most complicated of our 3D printed engines. This marked a huge milestone in the production timeline for Skyrora.
Skyrora tests 3D printed rocket engine powered by friendly fuel
At the beginning of the year, Skyrora tested our plastic waste eco-fuel known as Ecosene, for the first time on one of our 3D printed rocket engines.
The 3.5kN LEO engine, designed to be used in the upper stage of the Skyrora XL rocket, was tested using eco liquid fuel made from waste plastic in Fife, Scotland.
This fuel is particularly suited to cope with the potential weather problems or delays that could affect the rocket sites, as it does not require cryogenic freezing. This means that the fuel can be stored in a tank until a safe launch window makes its appearance, allowing launch schedules to be more flexible depending on the weather.
Skyrora conducted multiple 30-second static horizontal test firings of the engine, initially using kerosene before switching to the Ecosene fuel in our final test on 31st January.
The tests have also been a crucial way for us to demonstrate the real scientific credentials underpinning our work, while learning more about the nuances of Ecosene. This is crucial for learning the transformative potential that Ecosene holds for Skyrora and the entire space sector.
Skyrora sees first successful weather balloon launch
At the beginning of the year, Skyrora carried out our first successful weather balloon launch ahead of test flights near the centre of Scotland.
Weather balloons carry transmitters that collect information concerning atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. A parachute recovery system allows for safe landing of the transmitter, one of which belonging to Skyrora was recovered not so long ago by a citizen based in East Yorkshire.
Skyrora have recently begun to launch our own weather balloons for test purposes. We are using these weather balloons to measure the strength and direction of the wind at different heights.
Skyrora carried out weather balloon test launches from Penicuik House due to its convenience as a nearby location to practice the process from. They were used to relay speed and direction using GPS data to demonstrate where the wind is blowing. For future use, balloons will be launched before the rockets at our launch site.
When practicing this weather balloon launch, we added a camera to get our name one step closer to space!
50th Anniversary of Black Arrow
On 4th March 1970 the Black Arrow programme had its first successful launch and remains the only satellite carrier rocket launch to reach orbit from UK shores.
Midlothian’s MP hosted a parliamentary drop-in to celebrate the history and explore the future for the space industry. As part of the event, Owen Thompson (SNP) welcomed Skyrora to the parliament to discuss our work, building on the Black Arrow legacy and progressing towards future rocket launches from Scotland.
On this particular day, Skyrora also partnered with the UK Space Agency and Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this accomplishment and more recent achievements of the UK space sector.
To mark the occasion, the FAST Museum exhibited the first stage of Black Arrow, after spending over forty-eight years in the Australian outback and brought back to the UK by Skyrora.
Skyrora has lent the historic exhibit to the FAST Museum for three years.
As Skyrora continues to grow, we make it a core value to educate and inspire the younger generation, regularly engaging with the community in relation to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
This year, we collaborated with Megan Moore, a high school student chosen to represent Scotland at the 2020 Nasa Space School. Skyrora aided Megan in her efforts to fundraise the costs to partake in this trip by sharing her story on various social media platforms. We also donated numerous items of merchandise to be prised in a raffle she had organised to help raise funds. Megan is also due a tour of Skyrora production facilities when everything returns to normal.
Though our efforts to engage with the younger community have now been drastically restrained by the pandemic, we managed a number of school visits earlier in the year alongside the attendance of a soldering workshop for teachers. The purpose of this workshop was to allow teachers to learn how to solder so that they can pass on their newly developed skills onto the children that they teach.
STEM at Skyrora goes online
Given the current situation, Skyrora STEM engagement has been continuing online still inspiring the younger generation as often as we can. We now have a dedicated STEM team working together to produce innovative and engaging activities for all ages