Space News: UK opens huge rocket engine facility in Scotland to support first launch | Science | New


Skyrora moves its XL rocket to a new facility at Cumbernauld

Created by British rocket company Skyrora, the facility – based in the town of Cumbernauld – will join the company’s engine test facility in Midlothian, which opened in March. The size of two football pitches, the Vehicle Assembly Building in Cumbernauld is large enough to accommodate the assembly of 16 “Skyrora XL” rockets each year by 2030. These, the company explained, will be launched from the Saxavord launch complex in Shetland. He is.

Already, one rocket has already been completed and two more have started production at the Cumbernauld plant – which is the first in the UK to provide full-stage structural, pressure, functional and cold flow testing.

This will allow the company to test the Skyrora XL second stage which will be fully manufactured, assembled and tested domestically, on UK soil.

Hot testing of the second stage 3D printed 70kN liquid engine – the most powerful ever commercially produced in the UK – will be carried out on a stand at the Midlothian Engine Testing Facility.

In an actual launch, the second stage would fire to an altitude of approximately 38.5 miles before giving way to the third and final stage at approximately 118 miles for orbital insertion.

The UK’s largest rocket engine factory has opened in North Lanarkshire, Scotland (Picture: Skyrora)

The interior of the Skyrora construction facility

The Cumbernauld engine factory is the size of two football pitches (Picture: Skyrora)

Skyrora’s Director of Engineering, Dr Jack James Marlow, said: “This purpose-built manufacturing and assembly site, combined with the Midlothian test facility, allows Skyrora to directly support the internal development cycle.

“As a company, we now have a full set of national facilities to enable close quality control and rapid development and testing of Skyrora XL before its demonstration launch.

“The site will also allow us to further optimize the manufacturing processes developed by our colleagues in Ukraine and increase launcher production in the long term, allowing for further expansion and growth in the future.”

According to Skyrora, the Cumbernauld facility will boost the local economy by creating up to 100 new highly skilled technical and commercial jobs.

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Skyrora engine testing facility in Midlothian

Pictured: Skyrora’s engine testing facility in Midlothian, which opened in March (Picture: Skyrora)

Engine testing at the Midlothian plant

Pictured: Engine testing at the Midlothian plant (Picture: Skyrora)

Skyrora Founder and CEO Volodymyr Levykin said: “To play a significant role in the emerging global space economy, the UK must develop sovereign launch capabilities.

“It’s not just about offering different locations for the launch, but everything before that moment.

“Being able to offer end-to-end domestic capabilities from development, manufacture, test and launch provides the UK with a crucial advantage as it seeks to unlock its capabilities and realize its potential. on the world stage.

“This crucial asset would not have been possible without the dedication and talent of the entire Skyrora team, here in Scotland and in Ukraine.”

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UK seeks to secure its future in the global space economy (Image:

Mr Levykin continued: “We are proud to be leading the way for the UK space sector, further promoting STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] job creation which will be vital to the UK government’s upgrading programme.

“As outlined in the National Space Strategy, small and medium-sized businesses will be at the heart of the government’s broader plans for the space sector, and this new site is a great example of that.

“There is a huge commercial opportunity here, and a chance for the UK to play a key strategic role in the new space economy.

“However, to do this, investment is needed at the highest level of government to support the efforts of private enterprise – otherwise we risk missing the opportunity to sustain the UK economy and let talent slip through our fingers. .”

The Cumbernauld facility was made possible with support and assistance from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

UK Space Agency Deputy Director General Ian Annett said: “As we approach the UK’s first commercial space launch this autumn, Skyrora’s new manufacturing and production facility in Cumbernauld will further enhance the reputation of the UK as Europe’s most attractive destination for launch activities.

“Scotland is home to around a fifth of all space jobs in the UK.

“By exploiting the opportunities offered by commercial spaceflight, we are creating highly skilled jobs and local opportunities in Scotland and across the country.”

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