Rocket launch takes step closer as ‘fire engine’ test completed

An engine test was conducted on the Skyrora XL ahead of its 2023 launch from Unst, the Shetland Isles.

Rocket launch takes step closer as ‘fire engine’ test completed Getty Images

The first British vertical rocket launch scheduled for a launch from the Shetland Isles has taken a step closer after it completed an engine test.

The Skyrora XL completed a second stage fire engine test, ensuring it met all its design requirements ahead of a 2023 launch from the SaxaVord Space Centre on Unst.

It comes following the opening of a new manufacturing and production facility, the largest of its kind in the UK, in Cumbernauld in July and the opening of an engine test facility in Midlothian.

The test, conducted at Machrihanish Airbase on the Mull of Kintyre, was the largest integrated stage test in the UK for 50 years.

Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “As we soar towards the UK’s first commercial space launches, these achievements showcase our rapidly growing capabilities, and the increasing range of expertise that can make the UK a highly attractive destination for launch activities in Europe.

“We’ll continue to support the development of new launch infrastructure and technology and look forward to following the next steps of Skyrora’s journey to orbit.”

Colonel Lee Rosen, Skyrora COO and former SpaceX vice-president, said: “The static fire test looks, sounds and feels a lot like a rocket launch, but without lifting off.

“This hugely successful test was a definitive demonstration of our mobility and flexibility.

“The Skyrora team went from clean tarmac to a full static fire test in just 2.5 days, bringing all the necessary equipment with them.”

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