in Space

Orbex expands its facilities

Posted 10 July 2023

UK-based spaceflight company, Orbex, has extended its footprint across its Scottish and Danish design and production facilities, in preparation for the UK's first mainland vertical rocket launch.

Image courtesy Orbex

The company is adding an extra 1,500 square metres of factory and office space to its existing 4,750 square metre estate in Forres, Scotland and Copenhagen, Denmark. The additional space will increase the company’s launch vehicle production and propulsion system manufacturing capacity and add an extra software laboratory and an avionics clean room space with ISO 8 and ISO 9 sections. The additional capacity in Forres is just 3km from its test site at Kinloss, allowing for quick turnaround between the two sites, as Orbex ramps up its testing in the countdown to launch.

Orbex Prime became the first full orbital microlauncher rocket to be unveiled in Europe in May 2022. Prime is a 19-metre long rocket designed to launch small satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Orbex has already announced several commercial launch contracts with satellite manufacturers.

Orbex received one of the largest rounds of VC funding in the global space sector in Q4 of 2022, when it secured £40.4 million in its Series C round, from existing and new investors. This funding has allowed for critical expansion of its production and business facilities, in the run-up to the first launch and beyond. The company also announced last year that it was hiring an additional fifty staff in preparation for launch.

Sustainability has been a focal point in the design of the reusable rocket, which has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit. The rocket is fuelled by a renewable form of propane, meaning that a Prime launch has a carbon footprint up to 96 percent lower than traditional launch vehicles powered by fossil fuels, according to a study by the University of Exeter.

Prime will launch from Orbex’s ‘home’ spaceport, Sutherland Spaceport (formerly Space Hub Sutherland) on the north coast of Scotland. The facility is being built and operated by Orbex, under a fifty-year lease, with the option of extending for a further twenty-five years. As with Prime, Sutherland Spaceport is being built with sustainability in mind and is intended to be the first spaceport globally to be carbon-neutral in its construction and operation.

The UK Space Agency awarded £5.5 million to Orbex in 2018 to build a new rocket for launch from Sutherland Spaceport.

Martin Coates, CEO, Orbex, said: “Many people are eager to see the first successful launch of a satellite from British soil, as are we. But our focus has to be bigger than that, as we aim to build a robust and sustainable launch capability in the UK. Expanding our footprint is just one more step forward in that process. We are able to press ahead with our expansion, thanks to the incredible team we have in place and the confidence placed in us by our investors and customers.”

Scottish Government: Richard Lochhead, Innovation Minister said: “Companies like Orbex are vital to achieving our vision to make Scotland one of the world’s most innovative small nations. The firm’s Prime rocket, which I have been lucky enough to see up close, not only revolutionises launch technology but puts us at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy.

“This latest expansion is testament to the hard work and determination of Orbex which is continuing to make excellent progress towards a launch from Sutherland, bringing high value jobs and increased opportunities in engineering and science to Scotland.”

Matt Archer, Launch Director, UK Space Agency, said: “Orbex is an important partner in our ambitions to become the leading provider of small satellite launch in Europe by 2030, and the company’s significant progress is a clear example of how our funding is catalysing further investment and creating high-skilled jobs.  
“It’s great to see Orbex expanding its footprint and creating state-of-the art facilities here in the UK, as we look ahead to the first vertical launches from Scotland.”





Other Stories
Latest News

Babcock increases support on UK’s Dreadnought programme

Babcock has been awarded two further contracts for work on the UK’s new Dreadnought Class submarine worth a combined £121 million.

Farnborough Airport named FBO of the Year

Farnborough Airport announces that it has won the prestigious title of FBO of the Year at the Air Charter Association (ACA) Excellence Awards 2023.

Hadean and Faculty AI join forces to create next-generation AI capabilities

Spatial computing company, Hadean, and AI solutions provider, Faculty AI, have agreed to team up and accelerate the advancement of AI integrations for defence, security, and national or international governance.

UK Government launches AMP

Plans to build on British excellence in advanced manufacturing to secure long-term private investment and create high-paid jobs have been unveiled in the Advanced Manufacturing Plan (AMP), by UK Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch,

UKSA awards grant to Airbus to develop Space Catalyst in Stevenage

Airbus Defence and Space in the UK has been awarded £3.9 million from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to create a space and connectivity catalyst at its headquarters in Stevenage.

Griffiths Farrans JV awarded Bristol Airport transport hub contract

Griffiths Farrans JV has been awarded a contract to deliver a transformational public transport hub as part of Bristol Airport’s largest capital project ever.

ODU SK0104300422
See us at
DVD BTSpace Comm Expo BT