SCOTTISH-based rocket developer Skyrora has successfully tested an engine that will be used to send satellites into orbit from Scotland.

The firm says the milestone moves the project one step closer to entering commercial operations, with an inaugural orbital launch scheduled for 2023 from the SaxaVord Space Centre on the Shetland islands.

The firm’s chief operating officer, Lee Rosen, said that, as far as he was aware, it was “the first test of its kind anywhere in the United Kingdom”.

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In a statement, he said: “The static fire test looks, sounds and feels a lot like a rocket launch, but without lifting off! This hugely successful test was a definitive demonstration of our mobility and flexibility.

“Our Skyrora team went from clean tarmac to a full static fire test in just 2.5 days, bringing all the necessary equipment from our factory in Cumbernauld and test site near Gorebridge.”

With the success of the test, the firm is well placed to be the first company to vertically launch a satellite into orbit from the UK.

Other than the US, Scotland makes more satellites than any other country in the world with Skyrora among a number of firms looking to take advantage of a growing manufacturer backlog.

Scotland’s space industry is aiming to have a £4 billion share of the global market by 2030, with an aim of creating 20,000 jobs in the process. They have also focused on making Scotland’s spaceports the most eco-friendly in the world.

Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “It’s exciting to see Skyrora complete these static fire engine tests, building on the successful opening of its new production facility in Cumbernauld.

"As we soar towards the UK’s first commercial space launches, these achievements showcase our rapidly growing capabilities, and the increasing range of expertise that can make the UK a highly attractive destination for launch activities in Europe.”