Scottish-based rocket company Skyrora has received €3 million (£2.6m) of co-funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) as it seeks to become the first UK company to launch satellites from Europe.

The funding will be used by Skyrora to complete the crucial technology required to deliver consistent orbital launches from the UK with Skyrora’s XL launch vehicle. The first successful launch into space could be as soon as next year.

Skyrora XL is a 23-meter 56-tonne three-stage rocket capable of carrying up to 315 kg into orbit. It will give the UK the ability to launch its own satellites into space, a key government ambition for the development of the industry.

READ MORE: Scottish rocket company completes testing in space-like conditions

Headquartered in Edinburgh, Skyrora has established its engine testing complex at Rosyth in Fife. The project is expected to create more than 170 jobs.

“This ESA contract will accelerate Skyrora’s progress on its journey to be the first to achieve the UK’s sovereign orbital launch," Skyrora chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said.

"I am delighted that the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency support our programme, which has, to date, delivered outstanding achievements - four successful launches, with two more ready for launch; the establishment of manufacturing and engine test facilities throughout Scotland; and the static fire test of our orbital third stage.

READ MORE: Space rocket test centre to be launched in Fife

"ESA’s support, approved by the UK Space Agency through the Boost! programme will lead us to flight readiness of Skyrora XL in 2022."

Skyrora advisor Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station, said: "Independent access to space is vital for the UK to realise the full potential of its space industry and this exciting announcement for Skyrora brings us a big step closer to achieving that goal.

"Skyrora is bringing innovation and growth to the space sector, whilst setting new benchmarks for reducing carbon emissions. I'm delighted that ESA has awarded Skyrora this contract to support providing a new space transportation system for Europe."