Rocket startup Skyrora achieves a successful sub-orbital launch from Scottish island

This past weekend was a busy one for rocket launches, including for new launch companies hoping to join the ranks of SpaceX and Rocket Lab as private, operational space launch providers. Edinburgh-based Skyrora achieved a significant milestone for its program, successfully launching its Skylark Nano rocket from an island off the coast of Scotland on Saturday.

Skyrora has been developing its launch system with a goal of devouring affordable transportation for small payloads. The company has flown its Skylark Nano twice previously, including a first launch back in 2018, but this is the first time it has taken off from Shetland, a Scottish site that is among three proposed commercial spaceports to be located in Scotland.

Skylark Nano is a development spacecraft that Skyrora created while it works on its Skylark-L and Skyrora XL orbital commercial launch vehicles. Nano doesn’t reach space — it flies to a height of around 6KM (roughly 20,000 feet) but it does help the company demonstrate its propulsion technologies, and also gather crucial information that helps it in developing its Skylark L suborbital commercial launch craft, as well as Skyrora XL, which will aim to serve customers with orbital payload needs.

Skylark L is currently in development, and Skyrora recently achieved a successful full static test fire of that rocket. The goal is to begin launching commercially from a U.K.-based spaceport as early as 2022.

Skyrora’s approach is also unique because it employs both additive manufacturing (3D printing) in construction of its vehicles and uses a kerosene fuel developed from discarded plastic waste that the company claims produces fewer emissions than traditional rocket fuel.

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