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Skyrora signs deal with Shetland spaceport for UK rocket launch

Image: Skyrora staff with the Skylark L, the company’s suborbital launch rocket. (Credit: Skyrora)

Edinburgh, 13 October 2021. – Skyrora has signed a multi-launch deal over the next decade with SaxaVord Spaceport (formerly Shetland Space Centre) on Unst, the Shetland Islands. With the agreement, Skyrora is to become the first company to launch a rocket from UK soil. The company is aiming to deliver up to 16 launches a year by 2030.

Last year, Skyrora carried out the first, static fire rocket test in the UK since the Black Arrow programme 50 years ago in the Highlands. The company also successfully completed trials of the third stage of their XL rocket, including its orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). The OTV can re-fire its engines 15 times and can act as a space tug, complete maintenance, or de-orbiting tasks.

The first launch of Skyrora’s 23-metre long XL rocket capable of carrying up to 315 kg to orbit, could happen as early as 2022. The company is to fuel their rocket with their own sustainable alternative to conventional combustible, Ecosene.

The fuel is made from waste plastic such as polystyrene, polypropylene and polyester, obtained from local councils. Ecosene could prevent over 3,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic going to landfill by 2030, just with the planned flights of the agreement, the company said.

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