Waste-powered rocket fuel tests take place for first time in Scotland

Engine tests on rocket fuel made from waste have taken place in Scotland for the first time.

Skyrora has developed technology to convert plastics headed for landfill and oceans into an eco power source for its satellites as it competes to become the first company to fire a rocket into space from the UK.

The Edinburgh-based company has now completed a week of static horizontal ground firings on its 3D-printed engine in Fife to compare the behaviour of kerosene and the fuel, known as Ecosene.

Volodymyr Levykin, chief executive of Skyrora, said: “These tests have been a crucial way for us to demonstrate the real scientific credentials underpinning our work.

“I must thank our team for their hard work in getting us to this stage and ensuring the tests are delivering exactly what we set out to do.

“In particular, the final day of testing on the Friday was a big day for us in learning more about the nuances of Ecosene – crucial for unlocking the transformative potential it holds for us and the entire space sector.”

The Skyrora rocket will be used to position satellites into separate orbits of up to 500km altitude.

The test firings allowed the company to assess its 3D-printed engine, which will be used to power the final upper stage of its 22-metre rocket.

It has the ability to restart in orbit with the use of its hydrogen peroxide system, which makes it suitable as an orbital manoeuvring unit or a space tug.

This means it could complete a range of tasks from space debris removal to aiding a moon mission.

The first tests on Tuesday and Wednesday involved 30-second firings using kerosene.

On Friday, the first UK tests of its Ecosene fuel took place, allowing comparisons of its performance and behaviour directly with kerosene.

As well as emitting around 45% less in greenhouse gases, it is particularly suited to cope with the potential weather problems or delays that could affect the proposed Scottish rocket sites.

This is because it does not require cryogenic freezing and can stand in a tank for long periods of time.

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