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Arianespace and Orbex to Explore European Launch Partnership

Upwards view of Orbex Prime rocket. Credit Orbex
Upwards view of Orbex Prime rocket. Credit Orbex

London, 14 June 2023.- Arianespace, a European launch services provider, and Orbex, a UK-based provider of small satellite launch services, announced on the 13th of June that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to study possible future cooperation to answer its customers’ requirements. 

The agreement intends to increase the joint capabilities and flexibility of both partners’ services. It is expected that the future collaboration would be particularly beneficial for customers planning small satellite constellations, providing a flexible solution for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) payloads. 

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket designed by Orbex to transport small satellites weighing up to 180 kg into LEO. Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable fuel, bio-propane, which allows the rocket the reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world. A study by the University of Exeter showed that a single launch of the Prime rocket will produce up to 96% lower carbon emissions than comparable space launch systems using fossil fuels. 

“This collaboration holds a lot of promise for the European launch market and we’re excited to see where we can take this. We are clearly very pleased that Arianespace has chosen to work with Orbex,” said Martin Coates, CEO of Orbex. “We already have a strong position in the emerging European microlauncher market and this cooperation could take us even further commercially.”

At the end of 2022, Orbex concluded its Series C funding round, netting the company an additional £40.4 million. In May 2023, Orbex began construction of Sutherland Spaceport on the North coast of Scotland. It is the first vertical launch spaceport to be built on the UK mainland. The company will launch up to 12 rockets per year for the deployment of satellites into Earth’s orbit.

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