Highlands & Islands

Rocket test first of its kind in UK in 50 years

Rocket test Image copyright Skyrora
Image caption Space technologies company Skyrora said the test was done while adhering to "strict social distancing"

The UK's first complete ground rocket test in 50 years has been carried out in Scotland.

The 11m (36ft) tall Skylark-L rocket was tested at Kildermorie Estate, near Alness in the Highlands by Edinburgh-based space technologies firm Skyrora.

The rocket performed all the actions of a launch while restrained to the ground to prevent it from taking off.

Skyrora is designing and building rockets to carry small satellites into space.

A team built a mobile launch complex for the test last Friday.

The company said its business had not been asked to close during the lockdown and its work had followed government guidelines.

The launch was done in a remote location and "strict social distancing measures were adhered to".

Skyrora said it was the first test of this magnitude in the UK since the Black Arrow programme 50 years ago.

It said the Skylark L rocket could be ready to launch from a UK spaceport as early as spring 2021. Sites in the Highlands, Western Isles and Northern Isles are being considered for small satellite launch complexes.

Chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said: "This was a mammoth effort in very trying circumstances, so it is quite an achievement to be proud of.

"The operation was carried out while having to adhere to very strict social distancing measures, and in an extremely remote location, providing additional challenges, all of which were handled expertly by all the team."

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