Tests begin of a 3D-printed rocket engine that could power British space launches | Science and technology news


New 3D-printed rocket engines are being tested at the UK’s largest facility of their kind ahead of a potential space launch.

Edinburgh-based company Skyrora made them for the first time using their own Skyprint 2 machine, which the company says cut production time in half and reduced costs compared to previous designs.

The new model is put through its paces at a test center in Midlothian on the site of a disused quarry. It is the largest missile testing facility in the UK.

The Midlothian site is Britain’s largest rocket engine test facility

Weekly tests throughout the summer will require the engine to run for 250 seconds, the same time it would take a real mission to reach orbit.

Skyrora CEO and founder Volodymyr Levykin, originally from Ukrainesaid the new engines have brought the company closer to its first commercial orbital launch.

He added, “With our purpose-built rocket manufacturing and testing facilities in.” ScotlandWe pride ourselves on localizing as much of the go-to-market value chain as possible.

“The new engine technology developed by Skyrora’s engineers and commitment to sustainable design is a testament to the innovation taking place in the UK space sector.”

3D printed engines set new standards

Should the 3D-printed engine trials prove successful, the company plans to ramp up production ahead of further testing of its three-stage Skyrora XL launcher – a 23-metre tall rocket with a 315kg payload capacity.

The company has already successfully tested the second and third stages, but the first stage, which provides the initial boost to get the vehicle airborne, has yet to be tested with the new engines.

Skyrora was funded by the UK and EU space agencies. The head of the British space agency Dr. Paul Bate said their “innovative” 3D-printed engines set “new standards” in terms of manufacturing efficiencies and cost-effective design.

Skyrora is based in Edinburgh but employs half of its staff in Ukraine
Skyrora is based in Edinburgh

The company intends to conduct orbital launches from SaxaVord Cosmodrome in Shetland once it receives its license from the Civil Aviation Authority. The license application was submitted in 2022.

Scott Hammond, Deputy General Manager of the Spaceport, told Sky News earlier this year He hoped the site would see multiple launches by the end of 2023.

It comes after an orbital launch attempt from Newquay in January ended in failure. It was the first orbital mission ever to be launched from British soil.

The company behind the mission, Virgin Orbit, has since gone bankrupt.

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