Quarter 4, 2022 in Review
Term: October-December | Issue 5 | Date: 12th December, 2022
A close look at the work carried out by Skyrora over the last few months.
A Letter From Our CEO
Quarter 4: 2022: The Year of Launching, Learning, and Leading
2022 may be coming to a close, but the monumental technical strides Skyrora has taken in the past few months against all odds suggest that the commercial and innovative possibilities for the already thriving UK Space industry remain wide open in the years to come.Volodymyr Levykin, CEO Skyrora Limited
This quarter has seen Skyrora attempt to conduct our largest and first ever launch to space from Iceland using our innovative and agile mobile spaceport solution, which enabled the operation to take place in record time. Although the vehicle experienced a software-related anomaly and landed safely in the Norwegian Sea after leaving the pad, this test launch was an overall triumph and valuable learning experience for our team.
Achieving the mission’s primary objective to test technology and systems ahead of an orbital launch of Skyrora XL amid the war in Ukraine and several extreme Icelandic storms speaks to the team’s unwavering tenacity and talent. I am certain these qualities in our team will enable Skyrora to become the first UK company to conduct a vertical orbital launch from UK soil as early as next year, establishing sovereign launch capabilities in the process.
We are grateful for the support and approval of stakeholders across the Icelandic government who made this test launch possible without risk to people, wildlife, buildings, or the wider environment and have ultimately encouraged increased cooperation between the UK and Iceland. In the future, we look forward to conducting further launches of Skylark L to continue learning as we move full speed ahead towards commercially viable orbital launch from the UK.
However, ensuring the sustainable development of the larger UK Space sector without harm to the orbital and terrestrial environment is paramount to its commercial success. With the release of Scotland’s Space Sustainability Roadmap at the start of this quarter, Scotland now has a shared strategy for both recognizing the market potential of the nation’s space industry, which has been identified by the Scottish government as a key point for future economic growth, and supporting global Net Zero ambitions.
This ambition has always been of utmost importance to Skyrora, which is why we were proud to utilize our mobile launch complex during the test launch of Skylark L, minimising the footprint of our launch operations to leave little to no trace of activity behind. As we enter 2023, Skyrora will continue to push forward with our pioneering sustainable innovations in green fuel, orbital debris mitigation, and manufacturing to champion environmental launch practices in the UK.
As for the long-term future of UK space, I am filled with promise. Following on from the European Space Agency (ESA) Council of Ministers meeting at the end of this quarter, the UK secured £1.84 billion for investment into space, including an increase in ESA’s critical Commercial Space Transportation Services (Boost! Programme) funding from which Skyrora has greatly benefited. This budgetary uplift coupled with support from the UK Space Agency will encourage more cross-sector collaboration to push forward space innovation. Furthermore, if investment can be harnessed towards the establishment of a localised space value chain including launch, the commercial space sector is set to propel the UK towards a global science superpower status, delivering economic benefits for the wider nation.
As always, I would like to express my extensive gratitude to Skyrora’s stakeholders, including UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Scottish Enterprise, DiT, and DFT, for your consistent support in our mission to reach orbit. I would also like to recognize the one-of-a-kind Skyrora team for your passion, dedication, and resilience throughout this past year. You truly are the beating heart behind this mission, and I hope you all enjoy some much-deserved rest over this holiday season before we return for another year of disruptive technical advancements.
Skyrora Attempts First Rocket Launch to Space with Icelandic Mobile Spaceport
Skyrora was thrilled to conduct a launch attempt of our suborbital Skylark L vehicle into space from Langanes, Iceland on 8th October 2022 to test critical processes and components ahead of a full orbital launch from the UK at the end of 2023.
After leaving the launch pad, a software-related anomaly cut the maiden flight short, with the vehicle landing in the Norwegian Sea approximately 500 meters away from the launch site. No harm was caused to people or wildlife in any way.
This historic milestone follows on from Skyrora’s pathfinder launch of Skylark Micro from Iceland in Autumn of 2019. Since then, Skyrora has collaborated with the Icelandic government to ensure maximized safety and minimized risk for the launch of Skylark L.
Through the use of Skyrora’s unique mobile spaceport solution, the launch attempt was completed within seven days of arriving on site, with the packing of the containerized launch complex and shipping of the vehicle and facilities taking less than a month. This technology will prove central to the UK contending on a global scale within the realm of defense.
As Skyrora approaches orbital launch at the end of 2023, the demonstrator launch of Skylark L enabled the team to test 70% of the technology which will be applied to the systems of the Skyrora XL vehicle, providing a key incremental learning opportunity to increase technological readiness.
The team is already preparing for future launches of Skylark L to establish the launch heritage key to reaching orbit.
Skyrora Recognized for Innovation through 2022 WIRED Trailblazer Award
Skyrora was honoured to be identified by WIRED Magazine and HSBC UK as one of the UK’s most innovative and inspiring businesses this quarter through their inaugural WIRED Trailblazers award. This title is granted to companies who act as a leading example of how to harness technology and adopt innovative approaches to drive regional and national growth and deliver positive outcomes for people and our planet.
This objective is incredibly important to Skyrora, which is why we seek to employ sustainability across all aspects of our launch operations, from reduced carbon emissions through our pioneering green Ecosene fuel to producing all our rocket components via additive manufacturing processes to eliminate wasted resources.
Skyrora’s CEO Volodymyr Levykin attended the ceremony alongside 15 senior leaders from across the UK to network and discuss how to successfully scale a business. We are always grateful to be recognized within space sustainability and innovation and look forward to maintaining excellence within these fields in the New Year.
To achieve this, we are actively looking to strengthen our existing team in preparation for upcoming 2023 milestones. Check out our website for open positions: Aerospace Careers and Internships | Skyrora
Skyrora Attends Conferences Globally to Demonstrate Pioneering Work in Manufacturing and Engineering
Skyrora kept busy this quarter attending space conferences globally to raise awareness about our cutting-edge space innovations and collaborate with industry representatives to tackle larger issues such as climate change, space debris, and the UK’s international stance within the space sector.
Towards the end of the quarter, Skyrora was represented by both Alan Thompson and Derek Harris at two manufacturing events pushing forward the progression of the Third Space Age: Made for Space 2022 and the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering.
Derek was also selected to speak at the UK Space Agency pavilion at the Space Tech Expo in Bremen, Germany, to highlight the importance of Scotland’s Space Sustainability Roadmap to building a flourishing space ecosystem in the UK, as well as how Skyrora supports this objective.
Space is an ever-evolving industry, so it is always beneficial to connect with players across the sector to help position the larger European sector as a global contender.