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Orbex secures £16.7M to accelerate rocket development

Taking the UK-based space company's total funding to £102M

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Orbex, a UK-based first adopter of additive manufacturing technology for space applications, has received £16.7M in funding to accelerate rocket development from a group of six investors in an update to its Series C funding round – taking the company’s total funding to £102 million. Investors include the Scottish National Investment Bank (£10.5M of follow-on investment), venture capital firms Octopus Ventures, BGF, Heartcore, and the Export & Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO), and corporate and angel investors.

With pre-launch testing underway, the funding will help Orbex ramp up the development of Prime, its 19m-long, two-stage rocket designed to transport small satellites into low Earth orbit.  The aim is to ensure full readiness and scalability for its launch period.

Orbex now has two active patents in several European countries and the United States – covering various parts of its rocket technology. It is powered by a renewable biofuel, which allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world.

The funding injection comes after scale-up expert, Phillip Chambers, and former Director General of the Spanish Space Agency, Miguel Belló Mora, joined to form a new leadership team in January. Chambers himself became an investor in the firm’s £40M Series C funding round in 2022. The new funding continues Orbex’s growth journey, following £3.3M in funding from the UK Space Agency in December last year.

“Orbex is one of only two space rocket manufacturers in the UK, and the only one to also operate its own spaceport. Our technology is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and we are entering a critical phase of development. We are building a sustainable, cost-effective launch vehicle to compete with the best of Europe’s spaceflight manufacturers. This additional funding will support our goal to push on into an operational launch phase and scale our business when the time comes,” said Phillip Chambers, CEO of Orbex.

Orbex secures £16.7M to accelerate rocket development - taking the UK-based space company's total funding to £102 million.
Credit: Orbex.

“The Bank recognizes the unique potential the space industry offers for Scotland. We are perfectly placed to leverage our geographical location, vibrant business and innovation landscape, and our skilled workers to be one of the most significant global players in this growing industry,” said Nicola Douglas, Executive Director of Innovation at the Scottish National Investment Bank. “At the Bank, we have been particularly drawn to Orbex’s commitment to sustainability through its use of renewable biofuel and launch technology, all working towards the goal of carbon neutrality. Its approach perfectly aligns to our net zero and innovation missions. This follow-on investment comes at an exciting time as Orbex expands its manufacturing and looks to complete its Sutherland Spaceport this year.”

“Orbex has made significant progress since we first invested, becoming one of the leading players in the UK space sector. We are pleased to build on our support for the business and will continue to work closely with the company’s renewed leadership team as they work towards the initial launch phase,” said Paddy Graham, Head of Scotland at BGF.

“EIFO is thrilled to continue giving support to Orbex as it is one of the few companies with Danish presence that fulfills the strategic focus EIFO has within the defense, green transition, and commercialization of research. Whereas the EU currently relies on the US or other foreign countries, Orbex can in the near future give the EU space launch capabilities again. The Orbex technology platform provides a significant reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions through innovative combustion design and use of green fuels. Furthermore, the addition of Phillip Chambers as CEO and Miguel Bello as Executive Chairman to bolster the current stellar R&D and engineering team is a constellation EIFO as an organization want to support,” said Erik Balck Sørensen, CIO at Export & Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO).

“We’re delighted to continue supporting Orbex on their journey as Europe’s leading private launch services company. We’ve been incredibly impressed with the new leadership team and wider team’s progress, and we’re particularly excited about the progress towards first launch. At Octopus Ventures we invest in the people, ideas, and industries that will change the world – Orbex is a fantastic example of a business doing exactly that,” said Simon King, Partner at Octopus Ventures.

With testing and launch now in its sights, Orbex will soon enter a new phase of growth with a Series D funding round, which will aim to secure its long-term prospects as the leading orbital launch business in Europe.

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746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

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