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.
This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool. (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)
But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.
Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!
MP â€˜mystifiedâ€™ by comments about UK space flights The Press and Journal
Moray MP Angus Robertson last night said he was â€œmystifiedâ€ by Virgin Galacticâ€™s claims that British laws must be changed before Moray can be considered as Europeâ€™s international space station base.
The company plans to offer space tourism flights to the paying public within five years and Lossiemouthâ€™s RAF base is their first UK choice as a spaceport.
Virgin Galacticâ€™s president Will Whitehorn this weekend warned Britain â€œhas no legislation to allow us to fly here â€“ there is no regulatory authorityâ€.
He confirmed locations in Sweden were also being considered as bases for Virgin’s European operations.
Sunday Herald and BBC pick up on For Argyllâ€™s campaign to attract Virgin Galactic to Machrihanish For Argyll
If Virgin Galactic did opt for Machrihanish as their UK Spaceport, imagine what that would mean for Argyll. Every run up to a launch; every batch of space tourists arriving for a panoramic view like no other and a brief shot of weightlessness; every launch, every returnâ€¦.
Some interesting news about Virgin Galactic’s efforts to launch space tourism in Scotland, courtesy of the Sunday Herald:
Based tales of UFOs, secretive government test sites, mysterious hangars and underground cities, it is a sales pitch that is literally out of this world. A group of industrious locals in Argyll have clubbed together to try and convince Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s new venture in space tourism, to turn the disused RAF base in Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre into its UK spaceport.
Fury over â€˜lost opportunityâ€™ of space tourism conference The Press and Journal
A furious councillor yesterday accused Moray Councilâ€™s administration of a lack of vision after it decided not to send representatives to an upcoming space tourism conference. Members of the planning and regulatory services committee had been due to decide who would attend next weekâ€™s event, which will include a talk on Virgin Galacticâ€™s possible collaboration with RAF Lossiemouth.
Rocketplane Global CEO Chuck Lauer raised a really interesting question during his presentation at Space Access ’09 on Saturday: Does it make sense to launch space tourists from a place with notoriously bad weather?
Reaching for the stars will soon be a reality in Lossie The Northern Scot
The company, which is developing its White Knight shuttle craft in America, has expressed an interest in establishing a mission control here in Moray from which it would take space tourists to an altitude of 110km in a MAC 3 climb, to experience 15 minutes of zero gravity as they look down on earth.
Westminster SNP Leader Angus Robertson MP has said he is â€œdelightedâ€ following discussions about the potential for commercial space flight from RAF Lossiemouth in his Moray constituency. He was speaking after meeting with UK Science Minister Lord Drayson and Dr Ian Gibson of the British National Space Centre.
“A few weeks ago, a spokesman for Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic confirmed that it has chosen Scotland as the venue for a spaceport. In the shortlist of sites, the front runner is Lossiemouth. Kinloss and Machrihanish are also under consideration.
“If these plans come to reality there is a 60 per cent chance that the shores of the Moray Firth will become this country’s portal into space by as early as 2013, only five years away.”
Virgin Galactic CEO Will Whitehorn tells The Daily Record that his company will begin flying suborbital tourism flights from one of three locations in Scotland beginning in 2013.
“Scotland will definitely be our main base in the UK for space tourism flights and we would be aiming to take off from there within about five years,” he told the newspaper. “There are three great locations within Scotland, with the best being Lossiemouth. Failing that, Kinloss and Machrihanish in the Mull of Kintyre would also be suitable for this kind of flight.”
A group at Glasgow University in Scotland has announced plans to join the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition. The group, lead by Dr. Gianmarco Radice, put out a call for partners last Friday, according to the Sunday Herald.
“We are looking for partners to join us – we can definitely get to the moon,” he said. “It is very expensive though, so it’s more a prestige thing than an economic investment. It would be quite a PR stunt, to say the least.”
Ten teams are already competing for the prize, which requires landing rover on the lunar surface by 2012.