A SCOTTISH space company is finalising engine test preparations and setting up equipment for its rocket oxidiser as it continues its journey to launching satellites from UK soil.

Edinburgh-based Skyrora has begun its expansion into Cornwall Airport Newquay in what they see as a significant milestone in their development – the move signals the start of testing for a revolutionary rocket engine which Skyrora has manufactured in conjunction with engineering firm Frazer Nash.

The engine test will be the first of its type by a British small-satellite launcher since Black Arrow in the 1960s – a rocket that currently holds the title of the first and only successful British orbital launch.

Skyrora director, Daniel Smith, said: “Last summer we selected Cornwall Airport Newquay as the ideal place to begin the test campaign for our upper stage engine and the continued enthusiasm we have received from the team has led us to explore other activities that we could perform in the hardened aircraft shelter.

“The facility has provided us with an ideal ‘ready-made’ solution for a number of tasks. Although it’s likely that we will test our larger engines at a new permanent site in Scotland, there’s no doubt that we will continue to find other ways to collaborate and be part of the Cornwall space cluster.”

Skyrora’s engines stand out from the crowd as they use easily stored hydrogen peroxide and kerosene as a propellant as opposed to cryogenics such as liquid oxygen.

This enables them to create rockets which are best suited to the changeable weather of northern Scotland which could potentially see them held for long periods on launch pads. Testing will focus on Skyrora’s upper stage motor, which will power and manoeuvre the payloads once they are in orbit.

The deployment to Cornwall has been supported by Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), through its Enterprise Zone Infrastructure Fund. The airport is also home to the LEP-backed Spaceport Cornwall project, which aims to be the first horizontal satellite launch location in the UK.

LEP chief executive, Glenn Caplin, said: “Skyrora’s deployment will further demonstrate our space credentials and continues our strong contribution to the development of the UK space industry.”