UK rocket manufacturer Skyrora has agreed a deal with the SaxaVord spaceport on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands.
The company is moving closer to launching its XL rocket in 2022. If successful, this could be the first rocket to go to space from the UK.
This is the first agreement Skyrora has made with a Scottish Spaceport. The multi-launch agreement with SaxaVord will run for the next decade, giving Skyrora the ability to build towards its target of 16 launches a year by 2030.
Once operational, the SaxaVord spaceport is expected to create 140 jobs locally, with an additional 70 jobs across the Shetland. Shetland Space Centre recently changed its name to SaxaVord Spaceport, rebranding to position itself at the heart of the new space economy in Europe.
Skyrora has been testing increasingly larger rockets with short high-altitude launches since 2018 in the build up to the proposed launch next year. Last year, it conducted the first rocket test on UK soil in 50 years as well as launched its Skylark Micro from Iceland. These preparations have been gradually moving towards ultimately launching the three-stage Skyrora XL rocket to orbit, standing over 22m tall and capable of carrying up to 315 kilograms to orbit. Skyrora’s aim is to create over 170 jobs by 2030. In just the last few months, their company team has expanded by 30%.
Commenting on the deal, Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora’s founder and CEO, said: “We have made no secret of our ambition to be the first company to launch from UK soil so it's really exciting to agree to this multi-launch deal with SaxaVord. We are proud to be at the forefront of space innovation in the UK, deploying our assets and helping to unlock exciting opportunities as part of the new space economy. The UK is a world leader in space technology, and this latest move brings us another crucial step closer to offering a significant space service from our own soil.”
Frank Strang, CEO of Saxavord Spaceport, said: “As we look forward to launches from Unst next year, this is yet another exciting development and we look forward to working with the Skyrora team to help them meet their goal of delivering their XL rocket into orbit.
"The SaxaVord Spaceport location and the can-do attitude of our team mean we are perfectly placed to support Skyrora's endeavours."