Scottish company Skyrora, which plans to launch satellites into orbit from the Highlands and Islands, has set up a new engine test base.
The firm’s chief executive, Volodymyr Levykin, said the establishment of the facility in Fife was a “giant leap forward” for Scotland’s growing reputation as a “space hub.”
Edinburgh-based Skyrora aims to win a share of the lucrative small satellite launch market and hopes its first payload will blast off from one of three proposed north spaceports by 2023.
Last month, the firm carried out a test flight of the first rocket to be launched from Shetland, which followed two launches from Kildermorie Estate, near Alness, in Easter Ross.
Skyrora has already tested engines for two of its rockets at its new facility.
Mr Levykin said: “The opening of our engine test complex represents a giant leap forward for the UK’s ambitions as a space nation and Scotland’s status as a space hub.
“Skyrora has developed and come so far as a team and a company, and I am really proud to see how many milestones we have achieved in a short period of time.”
Skyrora engineering manager Jack-James Marlow added: “Our engine test complex is a fantastic opportunity for Skyrora and the UK Space industry.
“Scotland is heading towards an unprecedented growth in UK space and our complex is one step closer to achieving this. We are planning to test all our engines, which are fully 3D printed and operate on high-test peroxide at the site.”
In June, Skyrora’s Skylark Nano rocket soared to around 20,000ft from a remote site of North Roe, at the northernmost tip of the Shetland mainland.
The firm described the test, which was used to gather weather data and train staff, as “very important” as the islands are a potential option for launches of its XL commercial rocket.
Also last month, £17.3 million plans by development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise to build a vertical launch spaceport on the A’Mhoine peninsula, in Sutherland were approved by Highland Council. Others are being planned on the Shetland island of Unst and on North Uist, in the Outer Hebrides.
Skyrora has estimated its new test facility will help it create more than 170 jobs, mainly in manufacturing and operations.