TWO students will be reaching for the stars after beating more than 100 other applicants from all over Europe to land places on one of Scotland’s most prized university placement programmes.

Bethany Taylor and David King beat off the competition to join space firm Skyrora at its production facility outside Edinburgh.

They will assist the company in achieving its aim of making Scotland a key player in the country’s space race programme.

Taylor, a mechanical engineering student at Edinburgh University and King, who studies aerospace engineering at Sheffield University, have joined the firm’s technical team at Loanhead, in Midlothian.

There they will work to support manufacturing, aircraft launches and more stage testing of the Skyrora XL rocket. Taylor said: “I am really looking forward to learning about how the business is run and having the chance to work on different projects, using the knowledge that I have learnt at university, on real-life projectswithin Skyrora.”

King added: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the team at Skyrora, who are getting the UK back into space.

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“It will be a great chance to push myself and learn from all the talented individuals who work here.”

Almost 42,000 people are currently employed in the space industry across the UK, which helps to generate income of almost £15 billion a year.

Scotland’s space sector comprises more than 130 companies and already employs in excess of 7500 people.

Skyrora supports the burgeoning small satellite market and has already established itself as the UK’s leading private rocket company through a range of breakthroughs, including successful test launches and pioneering an eco-liquid fuel. The company aims to launch its first rocket, the Skyrora XL, from a UK site in 2023.

Its graduate placement programme is highly regarded by universities as a pathway to help propel young engineering talent into the rapidly developing sector.

This offers technical positions for students at the start of each year, as well as summer internships, and the firm is always on the lookout for new entrants to the industry.

“2021 will be another important year for Skyrora as we move towards our first launch – an event that also will be of huge significance to the UK’s space industry ambitions,” said Dr Jack James Marlow, the company’s head of engineering.

“But to achieve our goal – and continue to support the focus on space as a growth sector in both Scotland and the UK – it’s vital we continue to engage with universities to forge and develop the new talent of the future.”

Marlow added: “With 100-plus applications, Skyrora’s placement programme has seen major interest from all over Europe.”