UK tests ‘Space Tug’ capable of refiring its engine several times in orbit, and collecting space junk – TechCrunch
British SpaceTech startup Skyrora is currently the only private company that can launch missiles from British soil. On Christmas Eve, the team conducted a third-stage static fire engine test on board a new vehicle that will eventually take satellites to their final destination at their test facility in Fife, Scotland. What is more interesting, however, is that the vehicle can fire its engine multiple times in orbit and complete multiple missions in a single trip. This makes it a “space tug” capable of performing a number of maneuvers in space, including extracting space debris or maintaining it when satellites are already in orbit.
Skyrora went roughly one of Seraphim Capital’s early Space Camp accelerator programs.
The Space Tug is the first “mission-ready” vehicle of its kind developed in the UK. Once in orbit, it can navigate to any location on its own, making several stops, etc.
The space tug is powered by a 3D printed 3.5 kN motor and the first phase of the launch is powered by an environmentally friendly fuel (Ecosene), some of which is made from plastic waste
Volodymyr Levykin, CEO of Skyrora, commented: “We deliberately did not take this aspect of our Skyrora XL launcher seriously as we had major technical challenges to reach this level and we wanted to make sure that all tests were satisfactory, that you have now. Given the current climate and the lack of good news, we feel it is the right time to share this with the world. In addition to making efficient launches from UK soil in the most environmentally friendly way possible, we want to ensure that every single launch mission has the ability to carry out the level of work that would have required multiple launches in the past. “
Sir Tim Peake, astronaut, Commented: “It is fantastic that companies like Skyrora continue to strive to make the UK a ‘starter state’. The UK continues to benefit from these impressive milestones by moving forward and constantly investing in its technical capabilities. Skyrora has taken a step closer to launch readiness with a full third-stage fire test that functions as an orbital maneuvering vehicle capable of moving satellites in precision orbits. This vehicle will also be able to provide critical services such as satellite removal, refueling and replacement, and debris removal from orbit. “