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Horizon Space Technologies aims at UK rocket launch capability

Posted 18 July 2017 · Add Comment

British based and owned space launch company, Horizon Space Technologies Limited, has announced that it is aiming to start launching rockets from the UK within the next three years.

Horizon Space Technologies Limited Black Arrow 2

Above: Horizon’s goal is to develop a new low-cost commercial space launch vehicle called Black Arrow 2, designed to support UK and European small satellite missions.
Courtesy Horizon Space Technologies Ltd

Many of us who have dreamed of travelling into space will have been thrilled by the announcement of the new Space Industry Bill which was included in the recent Queen’s Speech to Parliament. 

The bill’s stated purpose is to make the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial space and will give companies the ability to launch rockets from the UK.

The UK’s space industry is worth an estimated £13.7 billion and the government hopes to significantly increase the UK’s share of global space turnover from 6.5% to 10% by 2030.

Taking advantage of these regulatory changes is UK start-up company Horizon Space Technologies Limited, formed by Ross Tierney. Tierney, a British born rocket designer.

“This is a very exciting time for Horizon and for British space” said Tierney “Our mission is to make space affordable by drastically reducing the inherent costs and the time taken to develop our launchers. Starting without the legacy issues of other space companies, we are developing our rockets using the best talent that the UK has to offer.  In particular, we are using a rapid development process that originates from the UK’s world-leading Formula 1 industry; this will allow Horizon to drive costs significantly lower.”

Horizon’s growing team of talented British engineers began 12 months ago to develop a range of space launchers in the UK.Horizon has won a technology development grant from the UK Space Agency which has helped to kick off its initial development work. The company plans an initial space port within the UK but also plans to launch its rockets off specialist ships which can be positioned around the world.

Tierney said: “The ability to launch from almost anywhere gives us advantages in terms of performance and flexibility to place our rockets into the required orbit. It also gives us the unique ability to launch our clients’ satellites from their own region.”

The UK is one of the world’s most important satellite manufacturers and initially the company has its eye on the small satellite launch market which is estimated to grow significantly over the next few years as the world’s hunger for mobile data increases and older satellites become redundant.  However the company’s ambitions go far beyond satellites. “We will use our initial launches to test our systems – but our ultimate goal is manned space flight” said Tierney “We intend to open up space in much the same way as the first railways opened up the western United States to growth and commercial activity.”

The company has received seed capital from private investors and is well along the way to securing the funds it needs to fulfil its long-term ambitions. “Space travel is a complex business to develop” said Tierney “but our goal is to reduce costs and be able to compete favourably in the new commercial space environment that has been evolving over the last decade. This will result in a profitable business going forward, bringing increased export services and huge rewards to the UK. The investors coming on board at this early stage see this potential and want a piece of what will be a very lucrative industry.”

The company is looking to create hundreds of high quality, science, engineering and manufacturing jobs on a number of sites within the UK. 

Advice has also been found from the Welsh Government, with Wales being one of the areas where the company is planning to locate its rocket engine testing facilities, docks and manufacturing. 

Tierney concluded: “With Brexit around the corner, the UK needs to develop its own technologies and independent capabilities more than ever.  We see Horizon as fulfilling an important part of that need and we believe that a home grown space flight capability will encourage pride in our nation and will bring many benefits - economic, geo-political and educational, to name a few. The future is just over the Horizon.”



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