Quarter 3 in Review
Term: July - September | Issue 3 | Date: October 1, 2020
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months.
A Letter from our CEO
Triumphant Third Quarter of 2020
Despite continued operational prohibitions, Skyrora have persistently strived to remain ahead of schedule in putting the UK back into space by 2023.
Imperative milestones are continuously being met, having established an engine test complex in Scotland, launched our Skylark Micro vehicle from Icelandic soil for the first time, and received an esteemed environmental award in recognition for our environmental efforts, all the while continuing our work within the STEM community.
The opening of our engine test complex represents a giant leap forward for the UK’s ambitions as a space nation and Scotland’s status as a space hub. The location and additional jobs will benefit the UK space industry and help the overall economy grow. It will also allow Skyrora’s highly skilled workforce and younger generation of engineers and technicians to be a part of this space revolution.
Iceland allowing us to launch from the Langanes Peninsula enabled Skyrora to continue our developmental and de-risking programme. The Icelandic launch allowed us to test our avionics and communications on a smaller and more cost-effective vehicle, all the while promoting the space industry in a positive light, inspiring the younger generation as a result.
Being awarded the Leif Erikson award came as a great surprise during our short visit to Iceland, and I am delighted that in addition to our successful rocket launch, Skyrora also received such a prestigious award in the world’s second most highly performing country in environmental issues.
Skyrora has developed and come so far as a team and a company, and I am proud to see how many milestones we have achieved in such a short period of time.
CEO Skyrora Limited
Skyrora Establishes Engine Test Complex Expected to Create Upwards of 170 Jobs
Skyrora’s newly established engine test complex is expected to help create over 170 new jobs in the area by 2030. The engine test complex in Scotland has already successfully tested the 3.5kN engine and three-tonne engine for Skyrora’s suborbital and orbital satellite launchers.
The layout of the engine test complex is minimal, consisting of a fuel and oxidiser loading system which will enable the fuel tanks to be loaded with fuel, and a pressure supply system which will feed the fuel into the engine on the test stand.
Skyrora additionally constructed the test stand, the access road to the test site itself and the concrete slab on top of which sits the finished test site. It took only a few days for Skyrora’s team to build the site at a fraction of the estimated time and costs, all the while ensuring all health and safety measures were in place to adhere to guidelines.
Skyrora aims to test all three engines in the rocket suite in this particular location: the seven-tonne engine for the first and second stages of the orbital Skyrora XL launch vehicle, the 3.5kN engine and the three-tonne engine for the suborbital Skylark L launch vehicle.
Ranging from mechanical engineering to avionics systems, the test site is estimated to create over 170 primarily technical jobs in manufacturing and operations.
In January 2020, Skyrora completed 25 tests on the 3.5kN upper stage orbital engine with the Kerosene equivalent derived from waste plastic, Ecosene. The engine test complex also saw the three-tonne engine through several tests earlier in the year.
Following these engine tests, Skyrora is now looking to expand the engine test complex to enable testing of the seven-tonne engine, used for the first and second stage of Skyrora XL.
The opening of the engine test complex represents a giant leap forward in the UK’s ambitions as a space nation and Scotland’s status as a space hub. The location and additional job creation will benefit the UK space industry and assist in overall economic growth.
Skyrora’s Skylark Micro Rocket Launches from Iceland
In August this year, Skyrora successfully launched the two-stage, four-metre tall suborbital launch vehicle, Skylark Micro, from Skyrora’s mobile launch complex in Langanes Peninsula, Iceland. The rocket reached an altitude of 26.86km before parachuting back down into the sea.
This launch comes as part of Skyrora’s de-risking programme, in which the smaller vehicles in the suite will be used to test various parts of a rocket system before launching an orbital version of the vehicles, Skyrora XL, which is scheduled for launch in 2023.
The objective of the Skylark Micro launch was to assess the onboard electronics and communications that will eventually be implemented into the Skylark L and Skyrora XL launch vehicles. The weather was assessed ahead of launch to ensure a safe window for launch. This launch also provided Skyrora with the opportunity to practice launch procedures and marine recovery operations. Permit procedures to enable Skyrora to launch the rocket from Icelandic soil were previously non-existent. However, after travelling to Iceland in January to meet with relevant government officials, Icelandic authorities were able to construct and implement a framework that would allow Skyrora to launch the Skylark Micro rocket from the Langanes Peninsula.
The successful launch was closely organised with Space Iceland, which was only founded in 2019. Through collaborative efforts and within a few months, Skyrora were able to organise relevant operational logistics and obtain the required official documentation ahead of launch.
Prior to launch, Skyrora invited the Mayor of Langanesbyggð, Jónas Egilsson, parliamentary officials, families and students from the surrounding communities to meet the team, learn more of the details concerning the Skylark Micro mission, and to see the rocket up close before lift-off.
Skyrora Receives Icelandic Leif Erikson Award for Environmental Efforts
For environmental efforts, Skyrora were awarded with Iceland’s Leif Erikson Lunar Prize Award, largely regarding the innovate Ecosene project which converts unrecyclable plastic waste into useable, high-grade, aviation fuel.
Skyrora aims to utilise Ecosene when launching the larger of the launch vehicles; the Skylark L and the Skyrora XL models, with the first Skylark L suborbital launch due to take place in Q2, 2021. When Ecosene becomes commercially available, it will potentially reduce 400,000 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste per year. It would also diminish Skyrora’s consumption of Kerosene, minimising Skyrora’s carbon footprint, and that of the aviation industry.
Receiving the Leif Erikson award during the seven-day visit to Iceland demonstrates the potential that Ecosene has, not only for the company, but also for the future of the global space industry.
The Leif Erikson awards, additionally referred to as the ‘Exploration Awards’, are awarded annually by the Exploration Museum in Húsavík, Iceland, for achievements in exploration and for the work within the field of exploration history. 2020 marks the sixth anniversary of the Leif Erikson Awards.
During Skyrora’s preparations for the Skylark Micro launch, CEO and founder Volodymyr Levykin met with the president of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, along with project managers Derek Harris and Katie Miller, who also met with the Minister of Education and Culture and the Minister of Environment. The company, the Skylark Micro mission and current and future plans in Iceland were discussed.
Skyrora’s Continued STEM Efforts
Skyrora have continued to re-focus its business operations on the production of online STEM content aimed at the younger generation to continue and strengthen engagement concerning STEM-related topics.
Featured in Skyrora’s previous newsletter for Q2, the winner of the mission patch design competition was chosen, and the design was converted into a mission patch for the Skylark Micro Mission I launch. The Skylark Micro rocket was flown for the first time from Icelandic soil, and to signify the launch this mission patch was created.
Prior to launch, Skyrora invited the Mayor of Langanesbyggð, Jónas Egilsson, parliamentary officials, families and students from the surrounding communities to meet the team, learn more about the details of the Skylark Micro mission, and to see the rocket up close before lift-off.
Success for Skyrora at Stevie Awards
On Thursday 10th September, the Stevie International Business Awards announced that Skyrora won Gold in the “Company of the Year, Aerospace & Defence, Medium Size” category. Skyrora were additionally awarded Silver in the “Most Valuable Corporate Response” category for our COVID-19 response.
For this we would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the National Physical Laboratory and Makerspace Paisley, whose constant support has allowed us to rapidly scale our operations in the fight against coronavirus.
Furthermore, Skyrora’s CEO & Founder, Volodymyr Levykin was awarded Gold in the “Entrepreneur of the Year – Aerospace & Defence” category. These awards serve to recognise our efforts not just as a launch service provider, but also as an active member within UK communities, and a driving force for global change.