The first chief of space operations for the United States, General John Raymond, has toured the facilities of British space company Skyrora as US interest grows ahead of its rocket launch next year.

The landmark visit last week will bolster the key space relationship between the UK and US ahead of Skyrora’s plans to be the first UK company to complete a vertical launch from home soil in 2023.

As a four-star general and the most senior military leader in charge of the US Space Force, General Raymond serves as a military adviser to the US secretary of defence, National Security Council, and president. The position of chief of space operations was created in December 2019, with General Raymond announced as the inaugural postholder.

Second stage static fire test

General Raymond’s visit took place shortly after Skyrora’s successful second stage static fire test of its orbital launch vehicle, Skyrora XL. The test was one of the key momentum-building milestones discussed during the visit as Skyrora continues its journey to establish sovereign launch capabilities for the UK. While on site, General Raymond was able to witness the UK’s launch industry capabilities first hand.

General John Raymond, US Space Force Chief of Space Operations General, said: “Now, more than ever, international cooperation in space is critically important. And the proliferation of commercial space efforts helps all spacefaring nations by driving costs down. I appreciate the fantastic tour of the Skyrora facilities and the opportunity to spend time with the impressive team there.”

‘Rapid, responsive technical capabilities’

Lee Rosen, Chief Operations Officer at Skyrora, said: “General Raymond’s visit on behalf of the US Space Force has been a valuable opportunity to provide insight into Skyrora’s rapid, responsive technical capabilities – such as our mobile launch complex and third stage technology, which can contribute to several key space applications, including in-orbit spacecraft servicing and space domain awareness.

“These, combined with Skyrora’s sustainably-minded focus, will enable key defence activities within space for the benefit of all.”
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