Is the UK Space industry ready to launch?

Is the UK Space industry ready to launch?

This week saw the first static fire of a rocket on UK soil for fifty years. A momentous and long overdue occasion which we hope will be the first in a small succession of tests by UK based rocket platforms.

The UK has a chequered past when it comes to space exploration that started as far back as the 1950s with a ballistic missile project called Blue streak.

That Blue Streak project slowly evolved into the Black Arrow, a seeming successful but short-lived rocket platform that only performed four launches with the fourth being a success. This low budget but surprisingly innovative design could have forged a successful small satellite industry back then have it been given the time and the budget

But the UK was still trying to recover from the last war and the somewhat experimental technology required for rocket launches was worth more politically as a bargaining chip than the financial gains of a successful platform, So it was cancelled as a part of the single European market negotiations.

Fast forward to today and there are a number of private entities in the UK vying for success in the small Satellite launch business with UK based rocket platforms, these include…

The listings above are specifically small satellite launch operators intending to operate in the UK.

There are many more UK companies involved in space and I will cover some of those very exciting developments in later articles.

Succesful Skyrora Test

On the 21st May 2020 Skyrora successfully performed a static fire of its Skylark-L rocket. This suborbital platform looks to be more like a technology demonstrator that will test their 3d printed rocket technology and if successful I am sure it will pave the way for their orbital rocket Skylark-XL.

This ground test not only tested the rocket systems but the mobile launch capability at its launch complex in North Scotland.
The Skylark-L performed all actions of a launch whilst tethered to the ground and prevented it from taking off.
The static fire test checked over 100 in-house manufactured systems as well as making sure the vehicle itself is ready for launch.

The UK space industry is definitely hotting up and next to join the action is Virgin Orbit who have a test Launch over the Pacific Ocean.

Below is a statement which you can find including updates on

“We are extremely excited to announce that the window for our Launch Demo mission starts on Sunday, May 24th, and extends through Monday, May 25th, with an opportunity to launch from 10 A.M. – 2 P.M. Pacific (17:00 – 21:00 GMT) each day.

That means that this weekend, our 747 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl will prepare to take off from Mojave Air and Space Port, fly out over the Pacific ocean, and release our two-stage, orbital rocket, LauncherOne — which will then proceed to ignite its engine in mid-air for the first time.

This Launch Demo marks the apex of a five-year-long development program. On our journey to open up space for everyone we’ve conducted hundreds of hot fires of our engines and our rocket stages, performed two dozen test flights with our carrier aircraft, and conducted countless other tests of every bit of the system we could test on the ground. “

coming up next I have a detailed review of skyrora and its plans so keep an eye out for that.

UK Space News Team @

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