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Orbex awarded £3.3 million as part of ESA’s Boost! initiative

Part of the Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support program for space launch technologies.

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UK-based orbital launch services company Orbex has been awarded £3.3 million in funding from the UK Space Agency as part of the ESA’s Boost! program. The initiative, part of the European Space Agency’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support program, is designed to further the development of world-leading space launch technologies.

Orbex awarded £3.3 million as part of ESA’s Boost! initiative, part of the Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support program
An AMCM system at Orbex’s facility.

“Receiving this funding from the UK Space Agency as part the European Space Agency’s Boost! programme is not only very welcome, but it’s also further validation of our commitment to delivering low-carbon, high-performance space launch services in a way that respects the environment,” said Orbex CEO Martin Coates. “The development of the Ultra-Green Launch Complex at Sutherland Spaceport is a critical step this journey, and this support will enable us to continue working toward our ultimate goal of making the UK a central hub for European space flight.”

Orbex, a first adopter of AM technology for space applications, will use ESA’s Boost! funding to undertake activities to build the Ultra-Green Launch Complex at Sutherland Spaceport, located on the north coast of Scotland. The spaceport is being designed with sustainability in mind and is intended to be the first spaceport globally to be carbon-neutral in its construction and operation. The site will see the launch of up to 12 orbital rockets per year, with several commercial launch contracts with satellite manufacturers already secured.

Andrew Griffith MP, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology in the UK government commented, “The UK’s space industry is thriving and we’re committed to becoming Europe’s leading destination for small satellite launches and developing world-class commercial spaceflight capability up and down the country. Today’s funding will not only help grow our domestic launch capability but also catalyse investment across the supply chain, creating highly skilled jobs and local opportunities right across the UK.”

Sustainability is also a core driver in the design of the company’s advanced, low-carbon, high-performance micro-launcher, Orbex Prime. Prime is a 19-meter-long rocket designed to launch small satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. It has been carefully engineered to leave zero debris in orbit and is fuelled by a renewable form of propane (bio-propane), meaning it has a carbon footprint up to 96% lower than traditional satellite launch vehicles powered by fossil fuels.

“Our investment in Orbex demonstrates our continued commitment to make the UK Europe’s leading destination for launch by encouraging the development of launch companies. This funding will help Orbex to develop the launch site at Sutherland Spaceport, enhancing our launch capability, creating highly skilled jobs, and supporting the government’s vision for the UK to be Europe’s most attractive launch destination by 2030,” concluded the UKSA’s Director of Launch Matt Archer.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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