UK Issues First Large Vertical Launch Permit

22nd Aug 2023
UK Issues First Large Vertical Launch Permit

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued its first-ever Large Rocket Air Navigation Order Permit. The permit was issued to Germany’s HyImpulse Technologies as a general permission. HyImpulse must notify the CAA 14 days before launching a rocket. The permit is valid for 1st December 2023 through 30th November 2024, and if they miss this deadline, the company will have to apply for the licence again. The vertical launch permit does clear the way for HyImpulse to launch from SaxaVord in the Shetland Islands.

What is a Rocket Air Navigation Order Permit?

The Civil Aviation Authority must authorise the launch of a rocket, and the Large Rocket Air Navigation Order refers to a rocket that is suborbital, and operates below the stratosphere. To qualify under the “Large Rocket” criteria, it must have a combined motor impulse of greater than 10,240 Newton-seconds but not be capable of passing the stratosphere.  

It is not known when the launch will take place, but the planning stage has taken some time. On 8th August 2023, HyImpulse invited Maggie Sandison and Neil Grant from Shetland Islands Council to a motor test, and stated that they “look forward to continued testing and partnership with the community in the beautiful Shetland Islands, this is just the beginning.”

The SR75 and the vertical launch permit

The SR75 is a single stage craft that will carry out experiments in microgravity as well as the Earth’s atmosphere. HyImpulse describe it as “Europe’s first sounding rocket with a built-in house hybrid rocket motor that uses paraffin and liquid oxygen as its propellants.”

It is capable of lifting up to 250kg in weight and recovering up to 700kg of mass with a parachute recovery system. The company has a focus on the environment, and the future of sustainable space travel and exploration.

In the company’s development pipeline is a three stage craft capable of carrying up 500kg to Low Earth Orbit.

The news of the CAA issuing a large rocket vertical launch permit means that the HyImpulse launch could be the first of its type to launch from the UK, though it may be 2024 when the company is ready. This will further the links between the German and UK space industries. 2024 will also see the launch of the RFA ONE, marking the start of a operations involving Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA) and SaxaVord Spaceport.

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