First vertical rocket to leave British soil scheduled to blast off from Shetland

First vertical rocket to leave British soil scheduled to blast off from Shetland

The first vertical rocket to leave British soil for Earth’s orbit is scheduled to blast off next year. Up until now, UK-built rockets have taken off from the US, French Guiana or Kazakhstan.

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But Edinburgh -based firm Skyrora plans to launch from Unst in the Shetland Islands.

The island will host the new SaxaVord spaceport, which is hoping to launch 16 rockets a year by 2030. The mobile launch system can be packed into shipping containers and sent anywhere globally.

One container holds the 74ft XL rocket and unfurls to become its launchpad and gantry.

The UK Space Agency aims to capture a 10 per cent share of the global space market, which is projected to be worth £490billion a year by 2030.

Lee Rosen, Skyrora’s chief operations officer, said the firm will aim to provide “a kind of Uber service”.

Rosen – who joined Skyrora from Elon Musk’s SpaceX – said the war in Ukraine has shown the value of satellites for defence.

He added: “We will provide a specific orbit, to the specific altitude, with very specific parameters for how the vehicle is delivered.”

Skyrora aims to be one of the greenest rocket launchers, using plastic waste to produce fuel.

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