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Edinburgh’s Skyrora Aims to Achieve UK’s First Private Space Launch

Dominique Adams


Alba Orbital Rocket lab

Scottish space firm Skyrora is one step closer to making the first private UK space launch a reality after its acquisition of the FARISpace Project. 

Edinburgh-based space firm Skyrora recently completed its acquisition of the FARISpace project, led by Oxfordshire’s acclaimed rocket engineer, Richard Brown.

This move brings the company closer to accomplishing its goal of achieving the UK’s first totally private space launch. FARISpace, which already has space flight-ready equipment developed, is now being reconfigured to carry a larger payload under the new name SkyHy.

SkyHy already has a two-stage hydrogen peroxide hybrid rocket built and ready to launch. If it is launched from the UK, it would be the highest commercial launch to take place, building on the success of Skyora’s inaugural test launch last summer.

The company uses an engine that has been rigorously tested a number of times and uses the kind of powerful, reliable technology that can be transferred for the company’s orbital requirements, capable of multiple restarts and orbital manoeuvrability.

Skyrora has said it is now working on a launch date and location. Although Scotland has been chosen to host the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport, company director Daniel Smith said that Skyrora has not ruled out an international launch if it cuts out delays.

Smith added that the acquisition will support Skyrora’s goal to capture a large share of the fast-growing small satellite launch market. Currently, Scotland builds 40% of the world’s small satellites and 25% of the world’s telecom satellites  but it lacks the capacity to launch these satellites into space.

The UK-made satellites have to be shipped abroad to be piggybacked into space, which means if Skyrora can achieve its launch it has good cause to be excited about the future as it will eliminate the need to go abroad.

Skyrora Already Thinking About a Guided Rocket Launch

Smith said: “The chance to acquire this ingenious technology was ideal for us, as it blends seamlessly into our overall strategy as the fastest and most cost effective way to gain practical experience of suborbital launches with a non-guided rocket, while testing the peroxide propellant that we’re already distilling here in the UK.

“As it is a helium pressurised, hydrogen peroxide hybrid, it uses two of the working fluids we will be using in our future orbital vehicles. The engine system can be used for our future steps, taking us towards our next big milestone of launching a guided suborbital vehicle.

“It’s the perfect bridge between the Skylark inspired test rockets which we’ve worked on previously, to our ultimate bi-liquid launch vehicle. Now we have an unguided suborbital rocket ready to be launched, it’s a great opportunity for us to work closely with regulators, get a feel for spaceport activity and gain more real launch experience, while testing critical aspects of our future systems such as telemetry, tracking, ground operations and safety procedures.

“In the meantime, our engineers are working with Richard to repurpose and enhance the vehicle, helping an innovative British product do what it was made to do. With payload enquiries already coming in, we simply can’t wait to see it fly.”

Smith enthused about the company’s partnership with Brown, who has a strong record of success with rocket and jet-related projects. In 1999, Brown’s Gillette Mach3 Challenger rocket bike achieved the fastest ever speed for motorbikes. Since then he has continued to excel in a number of other ambitious space projects.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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