Scottish space company Skyrora has successfully completed the first test phase for its 30kN rocket engine and opened a new European engine test facility.
The Edinburgh-headquartered firm will use the facility to test engines capable of 70kN (kilonewtons) for its suborbital and orbital launch vehicles. From the new site, Skyrora said it will continue ongoing efforts to complete a full burn and gimbal test, which is required before rockets can be launched into space.
Achieving successful engine tests now puts the Scottish space company one step closer to satellites being launched into near-space and orbital altitudes – a crucial stage for its small satellite launcher development.
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The recent successes, Skyrora said, now places it in the top 10% of small launch vehicle companies in the world.
Volodymyr Levykin, chief executive and founder of Skyrora, commented: “This is a huge milestone for Skyrora and marks the start of our test program for our larger engines. Our team has worked incredibly hard to develop our engine technologies so Skyrora can help make space more accessible for all.
“Skyrora will continue to work to ensure the world-changing benefits of space are realised here in the UK and in Europe.”
Skyrora’s suborbital and orbital engines are powered by hydrogen peroxide and kerosene, which helps reduce launch emissions and costs.
The 30kN engine has been constructed using additive manufacturing techniques and advanced materials, the company said. It provides nearly 10-times greater thrust capabilities than the 3.5 kN upper-stage engine, which Skyrora successfully test-fired at Newquay Airport in July 2019.
The use of hydrogen peroxide as an oxidiser offers unique advantages compared to liquid oxygen used by other launch vehicle companies.
Hydrogen peroxide is non-cryogenic, meaning it is stable at room temperature and is easily storable without the need for complex cooling systems – offering a huge advantage to the launch process given the changeable weather found in the UK.