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UK could soon become world leader in tackling space junk, says rocket developer

Photo issued by Skyrora of trials of ecosene. The UK is one step closer to becoming a world leader in tackling space junk after successful trials were carried out, according to the firm behind the project.

By Conor Riordan, PA Scotland

The UK is one step closer to becoming a world leader in tackling space junk after successful trials, the firm behind the project said.

Skyrora believes the Orbit Transfer Vehicle could clear debris, reposition satellites and remove defunct satellites from orbit.

In the week that the UK and UN signed a historical agreement on space sustainability, the Edinburgh-based rocket development company has thrown its support behind the initiative.

The directive agrees a new approach to sustainability in space, as well as equipping authorities with the power to act against firms responsible for creating space junk.

Skyrora recently launched its so-called space tug, which is one of many initiatives that could help the UK Government meet sustainability goals under the new directive.

Its chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said: “Our goal was always to be mission-ready once all the regulations and permissions were in place, and this development (the directive) not only brings us closer to that point but also takes us beyond simply launch readiness.

“It’s important to show that even in these challenging times we are still a nation that continues to innovate and take the lead in some of our most lofty ambitions.

“We aim not only to conduct efficient launches from UK soil in the most environmentally-friendly way, but ensure that each single launch mission has the possibility of conducting the level of work that would have historically taken multiple launches.

“With this approach we enter a whole new level of efficiency, with full consideration of environmental impact taken into account.

“We are delighted that members are discussing these matters in Parliament imminently on Thursday and expect due attention to be given and further action to be taken to adapt the regulations to reflect the UK’s commitment to sustainability.”

Skyrora has successfully trialled its “reignitable” rocket engine, or space tug, capable of manoeuvring once in orbit.

The test – at its engine development facility in Fife – involved a full mission duration static fire test of the upper stage of its orbital-class vehicle, Skyrora XL.

It is now believed this provides for a full mission-ready Orbital Transfer Vehicle that can perform a number of in-space missions.

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