Orbex reveals plans for space rocket factory

Posted on 17 Jul 2017 and read 853 times
Orbex reveals plans for space rocket factoryWelcoming the UK’s focus on low-cost reliable commercial spaceflight activities in the recent Queens’s Speech, the UK company Orbex (www.orbex.space) revealed details of a 1,200m2 space rocket factory currently building vertical-launch vehicles that will be put into orbit from the UK.

The company is building a space micro-launcher — a small launch vehicle capable of transporting payloads of up to 150kg to Low Earth Orbit.

The company is currently looking for an additional production facility (2,000m2) in Scotland.

Chris Larmour, Orbex’s CEO, said: “We’re planning to launch our vehicles into orbit from Scotland, so building a new production facility to support that activity locally makes complete sense.

“We’ve identified an excellent launch site on the north coast of Scotland, and we have been working with various regional and national agencies to make detailed proposals for development.

“We expect to create around 250 new high-tech jobs directly or indirectly, plus significant new revenues for UK-based suppliers and partners, as our activities expand in the UK.”

Orbex has kept development under wraps over the past two years, but has been making rapid progress in private, while also keeping the regulatory authorities fully informed.

Kristian von Bengtson, Orbex CTO, said: “We’ve already built ignition systems, main engines, avionics and cryo-tanks at our existing factory, and we have recently completed a series of main-engine hot-fire tests at our own engine test site.

“Many of our engineering team have backgrounds working at NASA and ESA, plus experience of building rocket engines and launch vehicles — a set of skills that gives us a very strong competitive advantage against global competition.”

Orbex says that its vertical launcher, which has been specifically designed to transport small satellites into Low Earth Orbit from the UK, completes the ‘end-to-end value chain’ in the UK, which already has a very strong satellite-manufacturing sector.

Vertical launchers are the industry standard, used by all major nations and spaceflight companies.

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