Christian Schmierer of HyImpulse and SaxaVord's Robin Huber at Space Tech Expo Europe. Credit: SaxaVord Spaceport/HyImpulse

BREMEN, Germany — The UK’s SaxaVord Spaceport plans host orbital launches of HyImpulse Technologies rocket from late 2025.

The two companies announced the signing of a letter of intent at Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany, Nov. 15, and followed three years of cooperation for an extensive series of engine tests.

HyImpulse, a launch services provider and DLR spinoff based in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is currently gearing up for its inaugural suborbital launch early next year from Australia. It will however look to conduct two suborbital launches from SaxaVord Spaceport, located in Scotland’s Shetland Islands, from August 2024 onwards. HyImpulse has already secured an Air Navigation Order (ANO) license from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority for one launch.

These will be followed by first orbital launches from late 2025 onwards. The plan envisions rising to full commercial operations by 2030. 

HyImpulse’s SR75 sounding rocket and its small launcher SL1—which can carry a payload of up to 500 kg into low Earth orbit—are powered by hybrid propulsion systems using paraffin and liquid oxygen. The firm in recent days completed the assembly and integration of its suborbital rocket SR75.

The agreement between SaxaVord and HyImpulse comes amid competition for both European commercial spaceports and launch companies to establish themselves. Spaceports at Sutherland, Scotland, Andøya off the coast of Norway, and Kiruna in northern Sweden are all planning to host orbital launches in the next year or so.

“HyImpulse Technologies have been an integral part of the SaxaVord journey and a fantastic supporter of our vision,” Robin Huber, SaxaVord business development manager, said in a statement.

“They carried out their first tests at Scatsta in Shetland in early 2021, and have been testing and honing their technology both there and in Germany ever since. So we are delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement for a program that will culminate in the company having a permanent presence in Unst as it gears up towards full commercial operations.”

“The Shetland Isles and SaxaVord Spaceport are an integral part of HyImpulse’s journey to space,” Mario Kobald, HyImpulse CEO, said. 

“We have been in close collaboration with SaxaVord since 2021 and have been doing our flight motors qualification testing also on the islands. We are looking forward to carrying out our first orbital rocket launches from SaxaVord Spaceport.”

Andrew Jones covers China's space industry for SpaceNews. Andrew has previously lived in China and reported from major space conferences there. Based in Helsinki, Finland, he has written for National Geographic, New Scientist, Smithsonian Magazine, Sky...