A new 3D printed rocket engine is being tested at a similar facility in the UK ahead of a potential space launch.
Edinburgh-based Skyrora made them for the first time using its own Skyprint 2 machine, which the company says has halved production time and cut costs compared to previous designs.
The new model will be tested at a test center in an abandoned quarry in Midlothian.it is UK’s largest rocket testing facility.
The tests will run weekly throughout the summer, with each test requiring the engine to run for 250 seconds—the same amount of time it would take to reach orbit on an actual mission.
Skyrora CEO and Founder Volodymyr Levykin, originally from Ukrainesaying the new engine brings the company closer to its first commercial orbital launch.
He added: “With our purpose-built rocket manufacturing and testing facilities, Scotlandwe are proud to localize as much of the release value chain as possible.
“The new engine technology and commitment to sustainable design developed by Skyrora engineers is a testament to the innovation taking place in the UK space sector.”
3D printing engine ‘sets a new standard’
If the 3D printed engine trials prove successful, the company plans to scale up production before further testing its three-stage launch vehicle, the Skyrora XL — a 23-meter-tall rocket with a payload capacity of 315 kilograms.
The company has successfully tested the second and third stages, but the first stage — which provides the initial thrust that lifts the vehicle off the ground — will need to be tested with the new engine.
Skyrora has received funding from the UK and EU Space Agencies. Dr Paul Bate, head of the UK Space Agency, said its “innovative” 3D printed engine “sets new standards” in terms of manufacturing efficiency and cost-effective design.
The company aims to conduct orbital launches from the Sack Saward spaceport in the Shetland Islands, once it receives clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority. Its license application is due in 2022.
Spaceport Deputy Chief Executive Officer Scott Hammond, told Sky News earlier this year He hopes the site will host multiple launches by the end of 2023.
it appears in Orbital launch attempt from Newquay in January Ended with failure. It was the first-ever orbital mission from mainland Britain.
Virgin Orbit, the company behind the mission, already bankrupt.