Astronaut Tim Peake joining Edinburgh-based space rocket firm Skyrora

The first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station is backing a bid to get the space industry established in Shetland by joining a pioneering space rocket firm.

Peake said his arrival at Skyrora will help it develop a commercial rocket launch capability. Picture: contributed.

Tim Peake has been appointed to the advisory board of Edinburgh-based Skyrora – which describes itself as a proven “leader within the UK space race,” and last month launched a rocket from Fethaland Peninsula on Britain’s most northerly islands.

The firm said Peake’s experience, including his spell as an International Space Station crew member, will be “invaluable” as it continues its development of the Skyrora XL rocket for providing orbital launches by 2023.

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Edinburgh-based Skyrora successfully completes Shetland’s first rocket launch
Skyrora chief executive Volodymyr Levykin. Picture: contributed.

Skyrora – which hopes to operate from one of the three proposed spaceports in Scotland – in June launched the two-metre Skylark Nano rocket, which reached an altitude of 3.7 miles from Shetland.

It followed a recent full ground test, which it said was the first in the UK since the Black Arrow Programme 50 years ago, of its second-largest launch vehicle. Peake said his arrival on the board will support Skyrora in developing a commercial rocket launch capability.

“The UK is well-placed to become a key player in meeting the increasing need for small satellite launch opportunities and Skyrora’s innovative ideas and rapid pace of development make them an extremely exciting company to be working with,” he said.

Skyrora chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said: “I couldn’t be more excited with Tim joining our advisory board. Tim’s knowledge, insight, and vast experience in the space industry will boost Skyrora’s efforts to become the UK’s premier and principal company for commercial rocket launches.

“Tim has been at the forefront of the space industry for years. His level of expertise will help us to gain more insight into the rapidly evolving UK space industry and sustain our rapid growth and development.

“As the UK space industry continues to grow rapidly, we must all work together and combine our multidisciplinary efforts to achieve capturing 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030, as targeted by the UK government.”

Skyrora has a team of more than 120 in facilities throughout the UK and Europe. It aims to cater for the growing demand to send commercial satellites into space – and is developing cost-effective launch vehicles that will launch from a UK spaceport by 2022.

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