GSTC 2023

Orbex introduces first microlauncher developed in Europe while Astra partners with SaxaVord UK

Orbex Prime on launch pad. Credit: Orbex

Edinburgh / Forres, 12 May 2022. – UK-based spaceflight company Orbex, has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital launch vehicle on its dedicated launch pad. Prime is designed to launch small satellites to orbit and it is the first microlauncher developed in Europe to reach this stage of technical readiness. Orbex is now preparing for the first vertical rocket launch in history from UK soil.

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket powered by seven engines, utilizing a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane. According to the University of Exeter, a single launch of Orbex Prime will produce 96% lower carbon emissions than comparable launch systems using fossil fuels. Prime is a re-usable rocket which will leave zero debris on Earth or in space. Orbex Prime will launch from Space Hub Sutherland on the North Coast of Scotland. 

Meanwhile launch service provider Astra Space, and SaxaVord Spaceport announced their partnership to increase access to space by providing dedicated orbital launch services. Depending on regulatory approvals, the first rocket launches are planned for 2023.

Astra has a flexible, mobile approach which will allow it to transport and connect a fully functional launch system to a concrete launch pad. SaxaVord Spaceport will in turn expand Astra’s capacity at key inclinations to accelerate access to space for customers launching from the UK, SaxaVord said.

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