Orbex plans to build and operate Sutherland Spaceport to launch Prime rockets

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Cornwall Spaceport will soon see the UK, but it will be a "horizontal" delivery based on modified aircraft using existing airport infrastructure. Orbex and Sutherland will support "vertical" rocket launches.

Scottish the rocket manufacturer - based in Forres, Moray - has entered into a lease agreement with development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to host the spaceport. Specifically, the 10-acre launch pad is located on community-owned land on the A'Mhoin Peninsula in northwest Sutherland.

Orbex says it will oversee construction and assume full operational management of the new facility, which will be the long-term 'home' of the company's spaceport. It hopes to launch up to 12 orbital rockets a year that will launch satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).

"Orbex is the first European launch company to also operate a dedicated spaceport," its CEO, Chris Larmour.

"This is an important competitive advantage for the company that will make it easier for us to work with customers as we expand our operations."

Highland Council granted planning permission for the site in August 2020. In February 2022, Orbex received a space launch license from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Financing

Last month, Orbex raised £40.4m for its Series C round, led by new investor Scottish National Investment Bank.

The company recently unveiled its "Prime" rocket in its final form, described as the first full-orbit microlauncher to be introduced in Europe. Prime is a 19-meter two-stage rocket designed to transport small satellites (up to 180 kg) to LEO. He uses .

Hire

Back in August, it hired an additional fifty staff to support preparations for the first vertical launch of a rocket from UK territory.

Many of the new roles, it said, will support "integrated testing" of the entire rocket at the Orbex LP1 launch pad in Kinloss. The facility allows for full "dress rehearsals" of missile launches at the site, which is located a few miles from Orbex headquarters.

“The new roles will also strengthen existing teams responsible for key areas. missile development including propulsion, structures, avionics, CNC machining and embedded software. Other employment areas will facilitate communication between ground personnel and the missile in flight, covering areas such as GNC (guidance, navigation and control) systems, sensors, data acquisition, ground segment software and radio engineering.”

Fifteen of the new roles will be non-technical positions.

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Source: electronicsweekly.com

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