Skyrora opens the UK’s largest rocket engine manufacturing facility in Cumbernauld

Skyrora opens the UK’s largest rocket engine manufacturing facility in Cumbernauld

Skyrora's Cumbernauld facility

Scottish-based rocket company Skyrora has opened a new rocket engine manufacturing and production facility, the largest of its kind in the UK.

After recently opening its engine test facility in Midlothian, this new facility in Cumbernauld allows the company to concentrate its launch development practices in custom-built domestic facilities.

The production of two vehicles has already commenced at the Cumbernauld site, which will scale up to 16 per year once mass production begins. The site has unique capabilities as certain tests that would typically be outsourced to facilities abroad can now be conducted domestically.

Conducting these tests domestically saves significant time and costs. The forthcoming maiden testing of the second stage of the Skyrora XL rocket can now be performed from UK soil. This enables important telemetry data to be collected and analysed on-site. As a three-stage launch vehicle, the second stage of Skyrora XL will start its engines at approximately 62km before releasing the third stage at around 190km for orbital launch.

The Skyrora vehicle assembly building in Cumbernauld consists of 55,000 sq ft of factory floor and office space, along with a 67,000 sq ft yard large enough to contain the entire Skylark L launch complex and future Skyrora XL launch facilities, for rehearsals, integration works, and launch preparation. Altogether, the facility roughly equates to the size of two standard football pitches and can accommodate up to 16 Skyrora XL vehicles for assembly, integration, and launch per annum.

The manufacturing and production site will generate new employment opportunities both in the North Lanarkshire area and in the rest of Scotland, boosting local economic prospects by accommodating up to 100 high-skilled technical and business roles.

Dr Jack James Marlow, Skyrora’s head of engineering, said: “This purpose-built manufacturing and assembly site, combined with the Midlothian testing facility, allows Skyrora to take direct charge of the development cycle in-house.

“As a business, we now have a full set of domestic facilities to allow for close control of the quality and rapid development and testing of Skyrora XL ahead of its demo launch.

“The site will also allow us to further optimise manufacturing processes developed by our colleagues in Ukraine and scale-up launch vehicle production in the long term, enabling further expansion and growth in the future.”

Skyrora’s readiness to enter mass production comes at a pivotal time in the UK space race, as the company endeavours to become the first British company to launch a rocket from UK soil with its orbital vehicle, Skyrora XL. By 2030, Skyrora aims to conduct 16 launches per year from Saxavord launch complex in the Shetland Islands alone.

Volodymyr Levykin, Skyrora founder and CEO, said: “To play a significant role in the emerging global space economy, the UK has to develop sovereign launch capabilities. This isn’t just about offering different locations for launch, but everything that precedes that moment.

“Being able to offer end-to-end domestic capabilities from development, manufacturing, testing, and launch provides the UK with a crucial advantage as it looks to unlock its capabilities and deliver on its potential on the global stage.

“This crucial asset would not have been possible without the dedication and talent of the entire Skyrora team, both here in Scotland and in Ukraine.”

Mr Levykin continued: “We’re proud to be leading the way for the UK space sector, promoting further STEM job creation that will be vital to the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda. As outlined in the National Space Strategy, SMEs will be central to the Government’s wider plans for the space sector, and this new site is a prime example of this.

“There is an enormous commercial opportunity to be seized here, and a chance for the UK to play a key strategic role in the new space economy. However, in order to do this, investment is needed at the highest level of Government to support the efforts of private companies, otherwise we risk missing the chance to future-proof the British economy and letting talent slip through our fingers.”

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