AerospaceAM for Space

Orbex unveils Prime orbital space rocket

AM played a big part in producing engines and parts of for the first-ever rocket to vertically launch to orbit from UK soil

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket on its dedicated launch pad publicly for the first time. The unveiling of a new generation of European launch vehicles – designed to launch a new category of very small satellites to orbit – represents a major step forward for the British rocket company as it prepares for the first-ever vertical rocket launch to orbit from UK soil.

“I am deeply impressed with the speed at which the Orbex Prime rocket was developed,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director General, European Space Agency (ESA). “It is the first full orbital micro-launcher in Europe. But I am equally impressed by the low-carbon footprint technology applied. My sincere congratulations to the whole Orbex team for this impressive achievement.”

Orbex´s Prime orbital space rocket is the first ‘micro-launcher’ developed in Europe to reach this stage of technical readiness. Many of its parts were produced using both SLM Solutions and AMCM (EOS) metal PBF systems. In particular, the very large print volume of the M4K enabled Orbex to print the full main stage rocket engines and turbopumps in a single print run. This means that the is no need to join smaller sections with welds, bolts or flanges, eliminating any unreliable hot joints, avoiding outdated and error-prone additional processing steps, reducing mass and automating production.

Orbex unveils Prime orbital space rocket. AM played a big part in producing parts of for the first-ever orbital launch from UK soil

“This is a major milestone for Orbex and highlights just how far along our development path we now are,” commented Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex. “From the outside, it might look like an ordinary rocket, but on the inside, Prime is unlike anything else. To deliver the performance and environmental sustainability we wanted from a 21st century rocket we had to innovate in a wide number of areas – low-carbon fuels, fully 3D printed rocket engines, very lightweight fuel tanks, and a novel, low-mass reusability technology.”

With the first full integration of the Orbex Prime orbital space rocket on a launchpad now complete, the company is able to enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimization of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed its first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company’s headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland.

“We are on the cusp of a historic moment, with Orbex playing a leading role in generating a brand new launch capability in the UK, while creating opportunities for people and businesses across the country,” added Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency. “I can’t wait to see Prime lift off from Space Hub Sutherland.”

The Prime orbital space rocket is a 19-meter long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines, that is being designed and manufactured in the UK and Denmark. The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single-engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Uniquely, Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, supplied by Calor UK. This fuel allows the rocket to 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 Orbex Prime rocket will produce 96 percent lower carbon emissions than comparable space launch systems using fossil fuels. Prime is also a re-usable rocket that has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit.

Orbex Prime will launch from Space Hub Sutherland, a new spaceport being constructed on the North Coast of Scotland. Space Hub Sutherland was the first vertical spaceport to receive planning permission in the UK and will be the first European spaceport brought into operation later in 2022. It is also the first and only spaceport worldwide that has committed to being carbon-neutral, both in its construction and operation.

“This is a hugely exciting time for the UK space and satellite sector as we count down to the first satellite launches from UK spaceports,” intervened in this regard UK Science Minister George Freeman. “Orbex Prime is a remarkable feat of engineering from a British rocket company, pioneering more sustainable and innovative fuels that cut carbon emissions. It is also fantastic to see Moray-based Orbex creating more high-quality jobs, demonstrating the value of our thriving space sector to support emerging clusters of innovation to help level up the whole of the UK.”

The market for small satellites is increasing rapidly, as a wide range of new small satellite constellations are developed and deployed. Micro-launchers such as Orbex Prime give satellite manufacturers a dedicated launch service, in contrast to larger, ‘rideshare’ launchers, where small satellites are often a secondary payload, and frequently face significant delays.

Research 2021
Ceramic AM Market Opportunities and Trends

This market study from 3dpbm Research provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of the ceramic additive ma...

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 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

We use cookies to give you the best online experience and for ads personalisation. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • PHPSESSID
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services

STAY AHEAD

OF THE CURVE

Join industry leaders and receive the latest insights on what really matters in AM!

This information will never be shared with 3rd parties

I’ve read and accept the privacy policy.*

WELCOME ON BOARD!