Skyrora and SaxaVord Spaceport say that the first mission will take place in 2022.

British rocket company Skyrora has agreed a multi-launch deal with the SaxaVord spaceport on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands, as it moves closer to launching its XL rocket in 2022.

This is the first agreement Skyrora has made with a Scottish Spaceport. If successful, this could be the first commercial rocket to go to space from the UK.

The multi-launch agreement with SaxaVord will run for the next decade, giving Skyrora the ability to build towards their target of 16 launches a year by 2030.

According to a study by Scottish Enterprise last year, forecast income from Scotland’s space sector could reach over £2 billion by 2030 with plans to double income to £4 billion while providing data solutions to combat climate change.

“This launch agreement will build on the impressive development of the Scottish space sector in recent years, creating even more jobs in an industry that has already grown 12% year-on-year while the UK as a whole has grown 3%. Beyond this, the move brings the supply chain of the sector all within Scotland, providing huge environmental benefits by addressing the sustainability and administrative issues around exporting to different launch sites across Europe.

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 22 metres 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.”

At the end of last year, Skyrora also successfully completed trials of the third stage of the Skyrora XL rocket, including its orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), a vehicle that once in orbit can refire its engines around 15 times to complete tasks such as acting as a space tug, maintenance, or de-orbiting of defunct satellites. The vehicle will be used to address the ever-increasing volume of space debris orbiting Earth, one of the biggest problems facing the global space industry, say the firm.

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Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago

McNASA?

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Go to your room.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

He’s already in his room Barry😆

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

😆

barry white
barry white
1 month ago

Can anyone point out whereabouts this is as i cant seem to find it on Google Earth
Thanks

barry white
barry white
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

Found it

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago
Reply to  barry white

its in dreamlan, turn left at foggy bottom and its on the right just past the sheep dip

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
1 month ago

A very important domestic capability this is, I think the Satellites are even built here (Stevenage?), but I’m not sure if its a British Company. Anyways, good news!

Martin Young
Martin Young
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Stevenage is an airbus site making large satellites, which are often too large for skyrora, more typically looking at cube sats made in Glasgow by Clyde space, or in Guilford by SSTL

Terence Patrick Hewett
Terence Patrick Hewett
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

UK is a major designer and manufacturer of satellites.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Surrey Satellite Technology is a world leader in small satellites, they were supposed to be working with Skyrora I thought but no mention of them here I note.

Also Skynet 6 is being built here and is probably the one you are referencing in Stevenage built by Airbus.

will be interesting to see if any aspects or a new generation of OneWeb satellites will ever be built here when the Govt brings its GPS/Communications features or whatever form they eventually plan with that company.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Closely followed by Stevenage and Southampton.

Douglas Newell
Douglas Newell
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

According to Wikipedia – so it must be true! – Skyrora’s CEO is one  Volodymyr Levykin who used to manage a Dating Company.

It also claims it is headquartered in Edinburgh.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Cornwall Spaceport at Newquay Airport is also aiming to start launches next year.

That would give the UK two operational launch sites, one vertical launch and one horizontal launch.

Exciting times for our space industry.

Cheers CR

Wolf
Wolf
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

… as well as space hub Sutherland, (vertical launch).

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Wolf

Yes I am now confused about this I read last week that Skyrora was to use this, and due to only the single planned pad ( as allowed under present planning permissions ) GD who originally backed it was moving to Shetland instead supposedly working with RocketLab. Must have been an old article I presume.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Do you have the link? I’ve been following Skyrora and both spaceports for a while and never saw anything about them planning on launching from Sutherland, only Orbex and Rocketlab.

Also I presume this means that the development issues in Shetland have been overcome?

Wolf
Wolf
30 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I think it’s Orbex that will be launching from Sutherland, I believe they are planning the first launch in 2022.
https://orbex.space/news/countdown-to-lift-off-for-orbex-as-home-spaceport-clears-legal-hurdles

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

As Ian noted, it’ll be McNASA up in Scotland. But it’ll be TreNASA down here in Cornwall.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

..and shall Trelawney live?
Or shall Trelawney die?
Here’s twenty thousand Cornish men(andwomen)
Will know the reason why!😎

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Hah! Perhaps it should be ‘or shall Trelawny FLY?’ 😎

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

😂

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

He needs to get a rocket up his arse.

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

looks like it could be shot down with a farmers shotgun

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

will they be offering space trips?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
28 days ago
Reply to  Andy Reeves

It’s Vigin that will be operating the launchers so may be…

Alan McShane
Alan McShane
1 month ago

They have an engine test site at an old quarry near Edinburgh.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

HMG are definitely doubling down on Scotland staying in UK. Sincerely hope it doesn’t blow up in their faces and ours.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

On the first i’m not qualified to judge on the second I seriously doubt the UK would want to depend on a foreign govt for bases essential to its national security. In the same way it wouldn’t for its naval shipbuilding.

Alan Reid
Alan Reid
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

David, As a home-based Scot, let me reassure you – Scotland is not going independent anytime soon.

UK government investments in the top bit of the United Kingdom are safe!

Last edited 1 month ago by Alan Reid
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Reid



geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Reid

And long may it remain so!

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Think of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus, but instead in Scotland.

Stuart Paterson
Stuart Paterson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Always strange when someone professes to speak for a whole country.

andy a
andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

No it wont the goverments have said for 10 years if independance occurs, strategic sights (ship biulding, sub bases, space launch) what ever they are will not be used in a foreign country especially one that will be refused entry from NATO for being anti nuclear .

James William Fennell
James William Fennell
1 month ago

Well done Frank – ex-RAF,done lots for aviation in Scotland including redevelopment of Prestwick etc.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Well I just want to go and see a rock launch. So a holiday up north for the family next year then,

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Swing near Edinburgh I will throw a big rock for you lol

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

It’s got to be a big rock mind, not just any old rock will do.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Nice to see the revival of the Skylark name!

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

“All aboard the Skylark!”. I can’t remember the programme that comes from though.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Captain Pugwash !

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Really? Well remembered!
Bring on the Seaman Staines and Roger the cabin boy jokes……………….

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

Hah my memory isn’t that good !

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

i WAS that cabin boy😪

GRIZZLER
GRIZZLER
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

The program was ” Noah & Nellie in Skylark”…a cartoon similar to Rhoobarb in style that appeared on BBC TV.The sylark was an ark that floated carried by Balloons (I think) and the all animals had two heads.
(The ship in Capt Pugwash was The Black Pig).

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  GRIZZLER

Cheers Mr G. I serpently don’t recall that telly!

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  GRIZZLER

I’ll get my coat.

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago
Reply to  GRIZZLER

isn’t that the code name of astute?

eclipse
eclipse
1 month ago

Realistically, not far. If i looked at that and didn’t know i would have guessed missile before rocket. Nevertheless, it would take investment to develop that into a ballistic missile. Still think we should have those, we can’t just jump to nukes. And we should definitely have more SAM systems.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  eclipse

Depends on how you define the missile as a weapon. If you are looking at a Scud equivalent. Then you’ll need to incorporate more navigation sensors and cover the nose in an ablative coating to shield it when coming back down following its apogee. Plus turn the payload into a warhead. Yes, its more than doable. You could also use the rocket purely as a launcher, to place a re-entry vehicle into low to medium orbit to give it a very long reach. Countries like Iran did it the other way round. Where they developed a ballistic missile weapon, then… Read more »

AV
AV
1 month ago

1st rocket launch on UK soil for 50 years!
Ffs that says it all.
Looking like good progress now though.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  AV

I did not think any of the UKs orbital boosters were ever launched from U.K. soil ?

Coll
Coll
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

First rocket test in 50years, not launched from the UK.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Who owns these “Space Ports”

HMG or private companies doing the launching?

As security must be an issue.

James William Fennell
James William Fennell
1 month ago

This one is owned by Frank Strang’s company. He bought up a lot of ex-RAF real estate sold off after 1989. It is a commerical project, like SpaceX (only smaller!), and SpaceX is used for military missions too. I’m sure they have to be ListX (vetted and approved) and that will include provisions for security etc. Frank was a special soldier, a rare one from RAF Rgt.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Thanks James. I was not aware of him.

How close is the spaceport location to the Saxa Vord RRH ?

Devonian
Devonian
1 month ago

A couple of miles away.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

About 4km.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Ok, thanks mate.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Group4, serco or some other random private sector sucker of the public sector purse.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

I’ve just read on Wikipedia that Historic Environment Scotland, “refused consent for the development on the grounds it would destroy a scheduled monument of national significance”.

Apparently, this occured in March of this year so I am guessing that this issue has been resolved – the HES is a statutory body so its’ consent is a legal requirement.

Does anyone know more?

Cheers CR

Devonian
Devonian
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

It’s not resolved as yet. The monument in question is the old RAF Skaw, a fairly well preserved Chain Home radar site. There are also environmental objections on the grounds of the impact on peat. As of yet, the planning application for the proposed spaceport hasn’t been considered, so it’s down to seeing what happens when the Council, and potentially later ministers, review it.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Ah, thanks Reaper,

Passed on appeal – that seems to be the only way to get anything built these days.

Cheers CR

Devonian
Devonian
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The planning authority hasn’t yet given it’s decision, so we’re still waiting to see what will happen. There’s a lot to do from getting a positive decision – roadbuilding, construction on the site at Lamba Ness – so it will be interesting to see how long the planning process takes to resolve.

Devonian
Devonian
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

That was the Sutherland space port. One of the shareholders in the Shetland space port challenged planning permission being granted to the Sutherland site, a judge through out that challenge.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR,
All I’ve heard since the March announcement was that SaxaVord intend to fight it tooth and nail. IMO the only way they’ll be able to get it to go forward is to submit new plans that don’t affect the nearby historical remains as much as the current ones.

But since there’s been silence I can only presume that the spaceport is ploughing ahead looking for investors and partners while still getting their appeal together.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Hi Dern,

Thanks for that.

I can’t see something this high profile getting stopped so I would be surprised if something does not get sorted out. Having said that they should have done their homework and id’ed the problem before applying for permission…

Cheers CR

The Big Man
The Big Man
1 month ago

I know these people almost certainly know what they are doing, but. Its the most northerly point of the UK and so payload capacity is limited. There is wind almost all of the time and it rains a lot, surely not the best attributes for rocket launches. Something like 650 people live there on Unst and its location must make recruitment of engineers and support staff and the like much harder as there cannot be much to engage with other than work. There is also a big lack of infrastructure as you would expect at the end of the UK.… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago
Reply to  The Big Man

Full of flammable distillate, next to a huge firework. What could go wrong?

Devonian
Devonian
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian M

The launches will be from Lamba Ness not the old RAF Saxa Vord buildings where the distillery is! That’s the control centre and office buildings.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  The Big Man

“I know these people almost certainly know what they are doing, but.
Its the most northerly point of the UK and so payload capacity is limited. There is wind almost all of the time and it rains a lot, surely not the best attributes for rocket launches.”

Yeah, i don’t understand this.

The Italians have the Vega and they are thinking of using the soon to be retired light carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi for rocket launching but probably will continue to stay in Guiana.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

They’re mainly planning on using SaxaVord and SPS for SSO’s and Polar Orbits ie launching North. In general the UK is badly sighted for normal orbits though (only east coast can launch over water and most of that is densely populated), which is why I always think Ascension should get a Spaceport.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

The interesting bit may be in anti ballistic missile defence, having a space industry with an orbital booster is a needed steep for a realistic ballistic missile defence for the U.K. as we are only ever really going to be threatened by intermediated range or Intercontinental range missiles and for that system you need an kill vehicle lofted by an orbital booster.

The whole ship launched Ballistic missile defence is fine for short/medium range ballistic missiles but they are pissing in the wind against longer range systems with far higher apogees.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Technically it is a Ballistic missile. Skylark L’s apogee is at 102km, so juuuust above the Karman line and into Space. While Skyrora XL is a full on Orbital Rocket.

Now if you want to use them Ballistically you just need to find a payload that’s less than 300kg. (Or for Skylark L 50kg)

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

looks like a oversized water rocket

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

George Bring Back the Space Heading!

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
30 days ago

april fools already?

P Fennell
P Fennell
25 days ago

Love to see they are trying to justify this on environmental grounds. Cant wait to see the 1st all electric plug in rocket.😄 For that I will doff my hat. Well done though better launched here and giving us that capability and income than elsewhere.