Skyrora celebrates 4 years of operation
In 2017, British entrepreneur Volodymyr Levykin made an astute observation on the state of the space industry. He recognised a growing disparity between the satellites going into orbit and the launch services available to deliver them into that orbit. Gone were the days of satellites the size and shape of minibuses. Understanding that most satellites would soon be closer in size to a can of Irn-Bru, or a glass of Kvas, Volodymyr was aware that existing launch vehicles would soon be rendered grossly uneconomical.
Identifying the perfect market conditions for a dedicated small satellite launch service, Volodymyr founded Skyrora on the 23rd of June 2017. The company would conduct all phases of design, manufacture, and launch operation. The trend towards smaller satellites would fundamentally change the customer base for launch providers globally and so he would focus on providing quick and simplified access to space. Skyrora would capture a new market with expedited launch expectations.
An experienced team of specialists would approach each mission with rigour, ensuring payloads reach orbit safely and with minimal environmental impact. That commitment to ecological launch would manifest itself into a propellant combination of HTP and Kerosene. Furthermore, Skyrora would develop an ecological alternative to Kerosene – a proprietary low-sulphur product made from waste plastic that produces 45% less overall CO2 emissions than the industry standard.
Four years later, Volodymyr’s vision has been catapulted into the present day with significant momentum and evidence-based confidence from the market. Skyrora is responsible for the first ground rocket test on UK soil in 50 years, four successful test launches (from Iceland, Shetland, and Alness), a commercially competitive Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), and meaningful sector leadership on environmentally responsible launch.
Alongside the private investment, the company most recently received £2.5 million from the European Space Agency to complete the development of the Skyrora XL orbital launch vehicle, on course to be test-launched in Q4 2022 from a UK spaceport. Skyrora XL is a three-stage, light-class launch vehicle intended for placing payloads into sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) between 500km and 1,000km in altitude, or polar orbits over a range of 200km to 1000km.
Skyrora’s strategy is to take an incremental ’step-by-step’ approach to allow for critical testing and de-risking. The overarching system architecture is built on proven British technology, often drawing on UK space heritage such as the Black Arrow programme. Skyrora continue to identify gaps in the UK and European space industry supply chain while moving quickly to create innovative, long-term solutions for future growth.
The company is headquartered in Scotland’s capital, pertinently placed to capitalise on the nearby wealth of small satellites requiring launch. Typical clients include those in Earth observation, meteorology, telecommunication, and micro-gravity scientific research. The global team has grown to over 190 employees.
During the largest public health crisis in a century, Skyrora rapidly repurposed its manufacturing capabilities to offer meaningful action. The company partnered with the National Physical Laboratory to 3D print as many as 100 face visors per week. Skyrora’s HTP supply was also used to manufacture up to 10,000 bottles worth of hand-sanitiser per week.
There is now an acknowledged and accepted dependency on space. We rely on satellites to connect our global society, forecast the weather, access the internet, manage our finances, deliver television signals, trade internationally, manage national security and assist aid efforts. Crucially in the fight against climate change, Earth observation satellites will be required to measure air temperature, greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels, and dwindling ice and forest cover. Skyrora stands to complete the final missing piece from the UK space eco-system – launch.
Congratulations to Skyrora as it celebrates its fourth year since it was established. The company is quickly proving itself as an industry leader and innovator. Within the next two years, Skyrora will put the UK back into space, making life on Earth better for everyone.