Skyrora and Spirit enhance UK launch capability
At the UK Space Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 21st November 2023, Skyrora and Spirit AeroSystems announced their collaboration on orbital launch capability. This partnership was unveiled in Belfast, the location of Spirit's largest UK manufacturing facility.
Skyrora, a UK-based launch-vehicle manufacturer, is creating an agile, end-to-end launch service for small satellites worldwide. Following its successful test launch of the suborbital Skylark L vehicle in October 2022, Skyrora is progressing towards becoming the first UK company to vertically launch satellites from UK soil. The company anticipates up to 16 launches annually once fully operational.
Volodymyr Levykin, CEO and Founder of Skyrora, commented on the alliance: "This alliance is a real testament to the strides Skyrora has made, and continues to make, towards our mission of being the first British company to launch from UK soil. It will allow us to renew our focus on localising our supply chain as much as possible, which is a key part of our mission to create a responsible and sustainable approach to orbital launch."
"By collaborating with innovative partners like Spirit, Skyrora will be able to access manufacturing and testing capacity right here in the UK. Historically, space has not been an environmentally friendly industry, but we are committed to being a responsible player that continues to foster talent and skills nationally as the ambitious new space economy goes from strength to strength," Mr Levykin added.
Spirit AeroSystems, expanding its presence in the UK space sector, offers diverse manufacturing and testing solutions in metallics and composites at its Scotland and Northern Ireland facilities. This collaboration will explore transitioning Skyrora’s orbital launch vehicles from development to full-scale production, leveraging Spirit’s aerostructures expertise.
Sir Michael J Ryan CBE, Vice President, European Space and Defence at Spirit AeroSystems, expressed his vision for the partnership: “Through our support of innovative, sustainable, space technologies and clusters, we can add real value to building UK launch capability. Spirit’s role will be to fully industrialise Skyrora’s future production requirements, ensuring a smooth path from development to manufacture.”
“The UK Space Conference provides a fantastic platform for companies like ours to cement relationships enabling commercial success within the sector including, importantly, UK launch activity,” Sir Michael added.
The UK Government, prioritising orbital launch in its National Space Strategy, aims to capture a significant share of the global space economy, projected to be worth £490 billion by 2030.
Matt Archer, Director of Launch at the UK Space Agency, highlighted the collaboration's importance: “Relationships such as this will not only build our domestic spaceflight capability but also help deliver Government’s ambition for the UK to be Europe’s leading provider of small satellite launch by 2030, creating highly skilled jobs and local opportunities across the UK.”
The collaboration also focuses on researching space technologies, particularly in additive manufacturing. Skyrora will grant Spirit access to Skyprint 2, Europe's largest in-house hybrid 3D printer, located at Skyrora's facility near Glasgow. This partnership aims to develop a localised supply chain, reduce costs, and lead times for Spirit, enhance industrial cooperation, and promote growth within the UK space sector.