Skyrora launches its small demonstration rocket from mobile launch site in Iceland

Launch startup Skyrora had a successful test launch of its Skylark Micro rocket from Iceland on Sunday, with the rocket achieving its highest-ever altitude at a height of 26.86 km (just under 17 miles). The four meter (13 foot) sub-orbital rocket took off from a mobile launch site at Iceland’s Langanes Peninsula that was set up in just a few days prior to the flight.

Skylark Micro is a vehicle that Skyrora is using to prepare the way for its eventual orbital small payload launch vehicle Skyrora XL, which it hopes to begin flying sometime in 2023. The purpose of this launch in Iceland, aside from demonstrating the flexibility of the company’s mobile launching model, was to test the electronics and communications on board the Skylark Micro, which will eventually be used for the company’s larger operational launch craft, as well.

Skyrora flew a similar rocket earlier this year, with a launch from a small island off the coast of Scotland in June. That rocket only climbed to around 6 km (3.7 miles), however, making this its highest flight attempt by a wide margin. This attempt also included a recover attempt for both stages of the two-stage Skylark Micro rocket, which separated and deployed parachutes to return to an ocean splashdown, but the startup says they haven’t been able to find either stage yet, though the search continues.

The ability to stand up and launch from another site so quickly is another key demonstration of this test. That could be a significant advantage — one that’s being pursued by a number of small payload launch startups. It’s a key capability that government and military customers are looking for in responsive launch services providers, though of course it’ll need to scale up significantly to support larger vehicles like the planned Skyrora XL rocket this company hopes to eventually field.