Credit: Skyrora

Langanes, 08 October 2022 - Skyrora has attempted to launch its suborbital Skylark L rocket from a site in Langanes, Iceland into space, marking another milestone on its way to commercial viability and the first vertical orbital launch from UK soil in 2023.

The vehicle left the launch pad and experienced an anomaly, landing in the Norwegian Sea approximately 500 metres away from the launch site. No people or wildlife were harmed in any way, and recovery of the vehicle is currently ongoing. Multiple tracking systems as well as boats and aeroplanes have been employed to optimise the recovery process.

Overcoming severe storms and freezing temperatures, the launch attempt was made possible with the support and approval of stakeholders across the Icelandic government, which signifies the increased cooperation between the two countries, having previously executed the pathfinder launch of Skyrora’s Skylark Micro rocket from Iceland in Autumn 2019. Since then, the company has been in talks with the Icelandic Government to cement the safety and viability of launching Skylark L to ensure it could be completed without risk to people, wildlife, buildings, or the wider environment.

Skyrora’s innovative and agile mobile spaceport solution, the launch attempt was completed within seven days of arriving on site. The entire launch operation was developed and executed in record time, with the packing of the launch complex - containerised to enable easy transportation and rapid deployment - and shipping of the vehicle and facilities taking less than a month. Due to the spaceport’s mobility, Skyrora was able to minimise the footprint of their launch operations on the surrounding landscape and wildlife habitats, leaving little to no trace of activity behind.

Skylark L is Skyrora’s 11m suborbital rocket, capable of reaching 4x the speed of sound and an altitude of over 125 km. 70% of the technology tested in the Skylark L launch attempt will be applied to the systems of the Skyrora XL vehicle, providing a key incremental learning opportunity to increase technological readiness ahead of vertical orbital launch next year.

Lee Rosen, Chief Operations Officer at Skyrora, said:

“With over three decades in the business, I can assure you that despite the best design, build, and test preparations, anomalies still unfortunately do happen. Skyrora’s launch attempt of Skylark L has provided the team with valuable experience in operations procedures, logistics coordination, and execution of the rapid setup and pack-down of our mobile launch complex, experience which will propel us forward monumentally in our mission to reach orbit. We are delighted to have had the support of the Icelandic Government and the local Þórshöfn community for this launch attempt. It is a true sign of the strengthened relationship at the heart of European space efforts.”

Volodymyr Levykin, Founder and CEO of Skyrora, said:

“Skyrora is continuously propelling itself towards UK launch. Our launch attempt in Iceland is a testament to building connections between nations, as well as the hard work of the Skyrora team, who worked against all odds to make the attempt happen, including harsh weather conditions and extremely low temperatures around which our equipment has never been tested. Those on site are currently completing pack-down through those challenging conditions, and we will be investigating the nature and cause of the anomaly further once that process is finished."

“While this launch attempt did not go entirely as we expected, it has nevertheless been a valuable learning opportunity - and a huge victory for this new relationship between Iceland and the UK, as well as the European space sector more broadly. Based on what we have achieved here, we remain confident of achieving our objective of a full vertical orbital launch from UK soil in 2023.”

Source: Skyrora

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Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.