01.07.2021
by Skyrora Team

Quarter 2, 2021

CEO Skyrora

A Letter from our CEO

2021 Thus Far: A Successful Second Quarter


Skyrora have had a rather eventful second quarter of the year, demonstrating an intense focus on our support for the next generation of space industry professionals and best environmental practice. This second quarter also saw Skyrora’s 4th birthday, encouraging some time for reflection on all of the monumental milestones and developments we have achieved at such an early stage. 


Some of the more prominent business and technical developments thus far have included the development and successful testing of our Ecosene rocket fuel derived from unrecyclable plastic waste, the development and successful testing of the Space Tug, and the first complete ground rocket test to take place in the UK for 50 years with the Skylark L launch vehicle.  


Skyrora are honoured to be advancing such revolutionary work for the benefit of the UK space sector, advancing at a pace that will hopefully put the UK back into space by 2023. Our achievements would not have been made possible without the dedication and hard work of the enthusiastic individuals that make up the business and engineering teams here at Skyrora. We are fortunate to have such a focused team driving the UK toward sovereign launch capability. 


Early in the quarter, it was announced that the profits generated by Skyrora’s online merchandise store will be used to support futures in STEM through the creation of events and activities that will encourage and inspire the next generation of space experts seeking a future career in STEM. We recognise the importance of addressing the market gap in the talent pool for future engineers, scientists, and business executives operating within the UK space sector. 


The Skyrora team are working toward our participation in the COP26 summit. We have pledged our commitment to the Race to Zero campaign through the SME Climate Hub, and we have been working with the Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC) on the three Sustainable Space Challenges set out by their judges. 


With the weather having sporadically cleared up over the last couple of months, we were provided with the opportunity to continue our weather balloon programme with a launch from the Pentland hills located just outside Edinburgh. Furthermore, we have been fortunate to have made appearances in esteemed news outlets such as BBC News, Sky News, and STV News, regarding our environmental efforts for which we have won another CleanTech Award, at the Go:Tech Awards 2021. 


Skyrora look forward to the busy summer ahead, which will see the continuation of our weather balloon programme (as always, weather permitting), and continued growth within the Skyrora team as we look to bring in more employees. We look forward to updating you along the way. 


Volodymyr Levykin

CEO Skyrora Limited


Skyrora Pushes Participation Efforts for COP26

UN climate change conference UK

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) summit will see government, industry, and academia join forces to accelerate climate change action to meet the sustainability goals detailed in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. The COP26 summit will be held this year in Glasgow on the 1st to the 12th of November at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), which features the SEC Centre, SEC Armadillo and SEE Hydro. 


Skyrora have been pushing for participation at this event, especially with consideration to the fact that we are heavily environmentally focused, with major consideration for our environmental footprint within all areas of operations as well as the role we have in reducing the harm caused to the environment as part of the space sector. 


As part of our efforts to confirm our participation at the summit, Skyrora have joined the Race to Zero commitment through the SME Climate Hub. The Race to Zero commitment is a global campaign to rally support from businesses, leadership, regions, and cities for a zero-carbon recovery that precludes future threats, creates job opportunities, and grants access to inclusive and sustainable growth. 

The SME Climate Commitment under the Race to Zero campaign recognises the posed threat by climate change to society as a whole, and commits to take action to meet the following goals: 


1. Halve greenhouse gas emissions before 2030

2. Achieve net zero emissions before 2050

3. Disclose the progress for the above goals on an annual basis 


Skyrora have also been involved in the SSLC’s Sustainable Space Challenges, which aim to showcase the ability of the space sector in supporting global environmental efforts. The three challenges set out by the SSLC for which the space sector will aim to find solutions for are detailed below: 


Challenge One

Identify ways to quantify, classify and assess the human-made space object population, leveraging big data (space and non-space) to better understand the nature of the space debris and orbital carrying capacity problem, whilst working towards the environmental protection of the near-Earth space ecosystem. 


Challenge Two 

Define a holistic, internationally adoptable approach to measuring the true impact of the space sector (direct and indirect) on the environment, to enable the reduction of carbon emissions and ensure a meaningful contribution towards wider net zero targets. 


Challenge Three

Explore the development of an open and accessible digital library of space data that connects and empowers citizen science initiatives around diverse Earth-based environmental data, to support deeper insight and better decision making from space-sourced information. 


As part of these challenges, environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Green Peace were joined by world experts to examine our efforts and processes in order to help make the space sector more sustainable. Challenge One was co-facilitated by Skyrora’s Project Manager Derek Harris, alongside Luke Vanstone from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Skyrora also participated in an active role as part of Challenge Two and Challenge Three.


Skyrora Sees Company Growth with Team Expansion

putting the UK back into space

Last quarter Skyrora took on two new recruits as part of the Graduate Student Placement Programme. This quarter, after a fiercely competitive round of applications for Skyrora’s 2021 Summer Internship Programme, five new interns have temporarily joined the Skyrora team.


The two successful applicants now working as part of the business team are Molly Mitchell-Knight and Claire Crease, and the three successful engineering interns are Isabelle Shaw Nelson, James Aherne, and Rhys Williams. 


The two business interns will gain experience in public and corporate relations, marketing, governmental communication, and brand identity. The three engineering interns however will gain experience working on critical launch vehicle development, and both programmes will allow all interns to play a key role in driving the company toward mission success. 


The applications for Skyrora’s more permanent roles currently available will additionally come to a close at the end of June, with the hopes of bringing on a new Business Communications Officer, Chief Operational Officer/Business Development Executive, and Payload Sales Manager. 



2021: A Great Year for Media Appearances

media appearances of Skyrora in 2021

Quarter 2 of this year has seen several media appearances by Skyrora. Skyrora’s CEO Volodymyr Levykin appeared on live interviews with both BBC News and Sky News to discuss the processes involved with turning unrecyclable plastic waste into Kerosene-grade rocket fuel, how the materials are acquired, and to discuss Ecosene’s performance compared with RP-1 Kerosene. These interviews took place surrounding Earth Day 2021.


Skyrora’s Project Manager and CEO of Ecosene Derek Harris appeared in an interview with STV to discuss Skyrora’s efforts to keep space clean and green, through the production of our Ecosene fuel made from polystyrene, and the Space Tug which will assist in tackling the issue of space junk. 


Skyrora also had an opinion piece written by Head of Communications and Engagement, Katie Miller appears in the Express, to comment on the current development of three British spaceports, and how this will drive the UK forward in its journey to achieving sovereign orbital launch capability. Click here to read the full opinion piece.



Weather Balloon Programme Continuation with Launch from the Pentlands

Skyrora's weather balloon

Throughout the second quarter of 2021, Skyrora have seen through the continuation of our weather balloon programme. At the beginning of quarter two on April 14th, Skyrora launched the next weather balloon in the launch programme from the Pentland Hills situated just outside Edinburgh.

The balloon reached an altitude of 31.5km, and the purpose of the launch was to test the tracking systems that will be integrated into the largest suborbital launch vehicle in the design suite, Skylark L.

Read more about Skyrora’s weather balloon programme here



Skyrora Awarded CleanTech Award at Go:Tech Awards 2021

Skyrora Awarded CleanTech Award at Go:Tech Awards 2021

The Go:Tech Awards seek to highlight the entrepreneurs and businesses paving the way for new technologies and innovative processes utilised within the UK business sector. The CleanTech Award is open to organisations and businesses that utilise innovative and sustainable methods of operation with consideration for their environmental footprint.


The companies awarded with the CleanTech Award often demonstrate strong commercial and financial performance, ethical leadership, and stakeholder engagement, as well as a quantifiable positive impact on the environment.  


Skyrora have previously developed and successfully tested various technologies that demonstrate an environmental conscious which include:


  • Our Ecosene rocket fuel equivalent derived from unrecyclable plastic waste 
  • Skyrora’s Space Tug which will be able to remove space debris and defunct satellites
  • The utilisation of a 3D printer to manufacture various rocketry components, thus generating less manufacture waste and minimising our contribution to landfill waste
  • A mobile suborbital launch pad of which the ground footprint and ecological impact is minimised by design 


As a result of the development of such technologies, Skyrora have been awarded – for the second time – the CleanTech Award at the 2021 Go:Tech Awards. 


Skyrora’s CEO Volodymyr Levykin has additionally been nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, an award that recognises innovation and resilience among entrepreneurs from across the UK who are creating long-term value and reinventing the future. 


The finalists for this award will be announced in September 2021, and the official awards ceremony will be held the following November.

 Learn more about the other awards Skyrora have won here.



Skyrora Merchandise Store Funds Futures in STEM

Skyrora Merchandise Store Funds Futures in STEM

Skyrora launched the online merchandise store in January 2021, with all profits generated being put towards activities and events supporting the next generation of professionals operating within the UK space sector. 


Skyrora’s online merchandise store has inspired interest on a global level thus far, with over 40% of all sales generated coming from overseas. 


Making space relevant to future generations is a corporate value at Skyrora, seeking to enhance the UK’s growth in the space sector and offer a rich environment for experts in the field by inspiring the next generation through outreach work and an extensive science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) programme. Aiming to achieve status as the first British company launching satellites from European soil, Skyrora will use the profits received through the online merchandise shop to propel the work we are doing to support students developing a career within the space industry. 


Skyrora’s STEM programme has previously provided sponsorship of the STEM section at the 2019 UK Space Conference, during which we provided a presentation on the company twice daily to all of the nearby schools that ventured through the event. Skyrora’s first ever Skyrora student event was hosted in collaboration with CranSEDS whereby members of Cranfield University, Cambridge University, Kings College London, Lancaster University and Kingston University spoke with aspiring members of the space industry. 


Skyrora have previously collaborated with GU Rocketry with appearances on discussion panels to explore the impact of the space industry on the environment, as well as our own project engineer Lewis Campbell acting as GU Rocketry’s first Propulsion Team Leader. We have also partnered with STEM the Violence to support and provide opportunities to the younger generation to encourage them to veer away from participating in criminal activity. 


Furthermore, Skyrora helped fund the retrieval of the first stages of Black Arrow R2 and R3, as well as provide sponsorship for the UKSEDS programme. Looking to the future, Skyrora aim to support 50 PhD Earth Observation research projects by the year 2030, as well as to continue to build on academic connections through collaborative projects.


The online merchandise store offers an abundance of representative and commemorative items, from Skyrora branded hoodies to mission patches from previous launches designed by mission patch design competition winners Ryan O’Connor and Iliana Ruseva. A design for one of the t-shirts available was also created by design competition winner Cameron Martin. 


Including the public in the creation of various designs available on our online store was part of a vision to include our audience in the developmental journey towards the achievement of launch capability. 


While the current collection available on the online store majoritively follows Skyrora’s brand colours: black, white, and navy, the next collection due to be released this summer will explore some more expansive designs and new items such as remove before flight tags, jackets, fleeces, and more! 


All packaging items for our merchandise store have been carefully considered with regard to its environmental footprint. Each item has been carefully researched to ensure we use the most responsible and sustainable products when shipping our merch, and to reflect our commitment to being as green as possible in all elements of operation. 

Read more here

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