Rocket testing re-launched at business park near Aylesbury

A rocket testing company is returning to a business park near Aylesbury, with a new project which received £194,000 funding.

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 9:34 am

Propulsion company Protolaunch is returning to Westcott Venture Park which is located just seven miles from Aylesbury.

The UK Space Agency has provided £194,000 to fund a rocket engine project on the E Site of the park.

Read More

Read More
International space and weapons company expands UK HQ at business park near Ayle...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

A close up look at Protolaunch's machines

Other exploration specialists are involved in the project including: the European Space Agency (ESA) and Satellite Applications Catapult.

Protolaunch’s technology focuses on removing complex turbopumps without sacrificing performance, Westcott Venture Park says.

Protolaunch chief executive, Matt Escott, said: “We wanted to invest in our own dedicated test stand at Westcott. We now have control of our destiny and can work faster and test bigger and more complex technology.”

Another look at the rocket testing technology

Protolaunch was formed at Cambridge University in 2019, it moved from the Westcott Business Incubation Centre to the ESA site in Harwell, Oxfordshire, before returning to Westcott last August.

Westcott Park officials believe that the E Site was built around 1956, for engine work connected to the Blue Steel stand-off missile designed for the UK's V bomber force.

It has also been used for work on a rocket-assisted take-off pack for an aircraft authorised by the South African Government.

Matt added: “E Site has a long history. We have completely kitted out the bunker with our control systems with the ability to test green propellant rocket engines up to 15 kilonewtons (kN) in thrust.”

Westcott Venture Park projects that the propulsion products Protolaunch is working, on particularly using small satellites, will prove valuable in a market that could be worth $155 billion by 2030.

Matt said: “We’ve worked with many of the Westcott rocket community such as Airborne Engineering for years, so we knew what a fantastic site Westcott was and about the expertise of the companies working there.

"There’s nowhere else in the country where you can do this sort of stuff.

“We’ve been able to do projects with companies such as Nammo so it’s fantastic that we can work on site and win bids together.

"Westcott is the ideal place for testing rocket engines and we’re winning contracts from the UK Space Agency because we’ve got this capability. We will be hosting an official opening of our new facility at E Site at the Westcott Space Expo as part of the Space Cluster tour of the site on 28 July.”

Nigel MacKenzie, development manager at Westcott added: “It is fantastic to see the rocket testing facilities continue to come back to life on the site, transforming it into a European centre of excellence for this technology.

“Westcott is a place where sustainability is a commitment for us managing the Park and for lots of the businesses based here. Many of the rocketry companies at Westcott specialise in green rocket propellants and technologies.

“Protolaunch joins a thriving nucleus of space companies and there is some really exciting work going on in rocketry here.

"Our pride in Westcott’s heritage has driven the desire to embrace the future.”