Skyrora Looks to Launch Small Satellites From Scotland

Credit: Skyrora

Another week, another small satellite launch company.

Skyrora, a privately-funded launch vehicle developer with a research and development hub in Ukraine, unveiled its plans for entering the small satellite launch market during the Reinventing Space conference taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

Edinburgh-based Skyrora, which is currently developing an orbital launch vehicle and has recently started a series of engine test firings, has plans to launch from the UK and follow in the footsteps of Black Arrow through the use of a high-test peroxide (HTP) and Kerosine propellants.

Daniel Smith, business development manager, said: “The use of advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing, access to expertise in Ukraine and our choice of propellant/oxidiser will give us an edge in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.”

“Scotland is an ideal place from which to operate. Its launch suitability, strong manufacturing history and the fact that Glasgow, in particular, is a leading city within the European space sector are all positive factors.”

Prior to attending the Rispace conference, Skyrora executives visited the Shetland Islands off the north east coast of Scotland as part of their search for a launch site.

According to the company’s website, Skyrora is working on two boosters: the suborbital Skyrora 1 and the three-stage orbital Skyrora XL. The website does not include any information on payload capacity.

 

  • passinglurker

    How to tell if you’re launch company is investor bait that’ll probably dry up in 3 years.

    1) your initial goal is a suborbital vehicle.
    2) you’re second goal is cube sat launches
    3) you don’t have a poster boy billionaire, or state backer.
    4) you’re developing your own engine with exotic or gimmick propellants like peroxide despite your lack of a deep pocket backer.
    5) you emphasise the use of 3d printing as the new buzz word or secret sauce.
    6) you set up shop where the subsidies are.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Sounds a lot like Vector. Any other companies come to mind?

  • passinglurker

    Interorbital, arca, black arrow 2, pretty much everyone up and coming in the micro launch game besides virgin, rocket lab, and maybe some obscure Chinese programs.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Ah, I forgot about Interorbital. Their vehicles remind me of Garvey/Vector. Arca is totally snakeoil. Do you have an opinion on Generation Orbit? http://generationorbit.com/golauncher1/

  • passinglurker

    Seems to be the same as the others. They aren’t worth taking seriously unless they either have a backer to power through development or they have at least made an attempt at legitimate orbital flight.

  • Tony_Morales

    But is peroxide really a gimmick when the UK is the nation with the most experience with peroxide based rocketry, apart from Russia I guess (their Soyuz rocket’s turbopump is powered by catalytically decomposed peroxide).

  • passinglurker

    How many decades has it been since they cancelled the original black arrow? Anyone who did anything with the stuff is retired, or dead.

    I’m not denying the stuff has merit but it takes innovation, and innovation costs time and money these start ups typically don’t have without a major backer.

  • Aerospike

    Why do you consider peroxide/RP1 as more difficult to handle than for example the less “gimmick” LOX/RP1 combo?

    You loose all the difficulty associated with cryogenics when you use peroxide.

  • Tony_Morales

    I’m sure the Brits have tons of documents and literature on the stuff to refer to.

  • patb2009

    Have you ever handled High Purity Peroxide? It is our preference to handle Hypergols over materials with exothermic decomposition modes.

  • Duncan Law-Green

    They seem to have a handle on the required propulsion innovation, bearing in mind they’ve already successfully hotfired an HTP-RP1 engine: https://twitter.com/Skyrora_Ltd/status/898147851007660032

  • passinglurker

    And I’m sure we have lots of Saturn v documents but that doesn’t mean reviving something and adapting it to modern personnel and techniques is gonna be a slam dunk vs. Using technologies everyone is already more familiar with.

  • passinglurker

    And gain a lot of other difficulties in exchange. Difficulties people have less experience with.

    I’d love to be proven wrong but we’ve seen enough small sat companies, fold, disappear, or back out of their gimmicks I don’t really have any reason to assume this will be any different at this point.

  • passinglurker

    We’ve seen hot fire tests from dud companies before. Without a backer they basically mean nothing until they make an orbital attempt.

  • Duncan Law-Green

    Not every backer is a publicity hound like Branson.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Cryogens aren’t as difficult as people make them out to be. There are basically two rules: 1) Don’t trap it (have relief valves, burst disks, and normally open vents) and 2) material compatibility (e.g. carbon steels get very brittle at cryo temps)

    Oxidizers always deserve respect, but if I had to pick, I’d say HTP is more testy that LOX. I don’t know if I’d go as far as @patb2009:disqus picking hypergols over HTP, but if I had to handle one LOX over HTP is an easy choice.

  • passinglurker

    True but I that case you’d need some particularly deep pockets like bezos.