MESSAGE FROM CEO DEAR FRIENDS, As we head into the year 2020, humanity is on the verge of a fundamental paradigm shift. Just as the internet radically altered the dynamics of human socialising, the opportunities afforded to us by space are in the process of radically changing human perception of the environment in which we live.
And we at Skyrora are playing our part. By challenging the traditional perception of “Space” and access to space, and by making vertical launch a real and viable economic sector in the value chain of Earth observation, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and taking bold steps in unlocking the New Space economy.
It has been a busy year for Skyrora and, whilst we continuously look forward, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on our achievements and progress in 2019. Working in tandem with strategic partners, we have reached several key milestones, of which the team should be very proud. Despite the initial difficulty of selecting what we believe to be the most outstanding, the team has, after much deliberation, compiled a list of the top events for 2019.
I am proud to have taken part in all these wonderful achievements in the 2019, and I am confident that 2020 will be even more spectacular. We at Skyrora are grateful to the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Scottish Enterprise, Department for International Trade, and other friends and followers for their role they play in facilitating the growth of the New Space economy. Without the talent, hard work, and dedication that we all have demonstrated, achieving such a goal would be truly impossible.
OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2019
UNVEILING R3 BLACK ARROW AFTER BEING REPATRIATED FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK
Skyrora proudly repatriated R3 Black Arrow from the Australian outback. A gala dinner was held to unveil Black Arrow’s return to the UK. Among the guests of honour were two of the engineers from the original Black Arrow programme. They both recalled and shared their emotional attachment to the rocket, one of them even vividly retelling the last night with the rocket before it was launched in 1971. The evening was a tribute to the UK’s long term space plans, and a very fitting platform for hundreds of guests from the Space industry far and wide to rekindle their aspirations for the future of UK Space.
Skyrora was proud to be asked by Scottish Parliament to participate in one of Holyrood’s first Space debates, exhibiting the Black Arrow outside the Parliament building. The rocket has subsequently been given on loan to the Farnborough air museum.
March — May
RANGE OF TEST VEHICLES IS READY FOR LAUNCH
Skylark Micro (two-stage solid rocket) and SkyHy (hybrid suborbital rocket), having been assembled in the UK, are prepared for their missions.
Both rocket missions will allow certain small items (up to 2kg) to be tested under the influence of g-loads at boost phase and more importantly to conduct the physical test of avionics equipment under microgravity conditions. The rockets can be used to test thermal protection coating and onboard telemetry components under flight conditions – all important elements of our incremental approach while the main orbital vehicle is under development. Now the whole family of trial rockets are available for order
LAUNCH OF OUR WORKSHOP IN SLOVAKIA
Our proprietary composite high-pressure fuel tanks were designed and successfully tested up to a pressure of 380 atmosphere at the Slovak facility. The high-pressure vessels will be installed in both the suborbital launch vehicle Skylark L and the third stage of orbital rocket Skyrora XL
LAUNCH OF NEW FACTORY IN LOANHEAD, SCOTLAND, UK
One of the key stages in the development of our company in 2019 was the launch of our new manufacturing facility in the UK. At this location we design and manufacture engines, avionics systems and other critical rocket components. Skylark Micro and SkyHy are demonstrated here, and are currently being refined before their first launches. Skylark Nano, which we have successfully launched twice, was assembled at the Edinburgh workshop by Skyrora’s UK engineers. The Edinburgh workshop also houses a High Test Peroxide (HTP) distillery. The recently established HTP distillation process uses weak hydrogen peroxide and water evaporation to reach 90% concentration of hydrogen peroxide. We use distillation and puriﬁcation units to achieve the high purity HTP necessary as the oxidizer in our fuel system.
NANO LAUNCH MKII — KILDERMORIE
Skyrora launched its second small rocket, providing proof of reusability - the two-meter-long Skylark Nano II - from Kildermorie Estate, Ross-shire in northern Scotland (the first test launch of the smallest vehicle from our rocket family took place in 2018). The flight lasted a few minutes, with the vehicle reaching an altitude of about six kilometers and a speed of more than 1,811 kilometers per hour. Once at its maximum altitude of 5,849 meters, the rocket separated and fell to Earth. A parachute deployed 500 meters above the ground, with the rocket ultimately landing 809 meters away from the launch site.
LOW EARTH ORBIT "LEO" ENGINE TEST — CORNWALL SPACEPORT
As part of significant progress for the launch of the Skyrora XL, the third-stage test firing was undertaken for the "LEO"- a precursor to the engine which will eventually propel the rocket into orbit. The "LEO" is tipped to be “the first commercially fully 3D printed bi-liquid rocket engine to be tested in the UK” and is capable of producing 3.5 kN of thrust. It runs on hydrogen peroxide and kerosene, producing 45 percent less greenhouse gas emissions as compared to traditional rocket fuel, which uses liquid oxygen. "LEO" was test fired by Skyrora at Newquay Airport in partnership with Spaceport Cornwall with members of the public and media attending to witness the historic moment.
30KN ENGINE PRINTED AND WELDED — READY FOR TEST
UK largest 3D printed engine ever built was printed and assembled at our facilities at Loanhead. With the welding now complete, we look forward to testing this 3rd generation 30kN engine at our Scottish test site in 2020. The engine is to be used by sounding vehicle Skylark L.
July — October
ENGINE TEST RIG DEVELOPMENT
We developed and successfully tested engine test rig in Dnipro, Ukraine. Recently testing stand has been relocated to the UK
ECOSENE RECOGNITION — AWARD FOR ECO FUEL
Our proprietary Ecosene fuel, currently in the advanced stages of development, will substitute kerosene in all of our future launches. Unlike standard petroleum based fuels, Ecosene is fully derived from non-recyclable plastic, and emits less sulphur and nitrogen. Ecosene, along with other developmental technologies, contributes to our strategy of addressing the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN, including those of Clean Water and Sanitation and Climate Action.
SKYLARK L VEHICLE ASSEMBLED AND PRESSURE TESTED
The absolute highlight of the year and in Skyrora’s mission to enable responsive access to space was the assembly and pressure testing of the suborbital vehicle Skylark L, the 2nd largest vehicle in the Skyrora family. With this rocket assembled ahead of schedule, the next step will be to conduct a fire testing and readiness to launch Skylark L in the nearest future.
We look forward to our ongoing fruitful cooperation with all our partners in the years to come. Each one of us plays a vital supporting role in both Skyrora and the broader UK ecosystem in our journey to the stars. May you have a great year and a wonderful time ahead.
Congratulations and Happy New Year!
CEO Skyrora Ltd