Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.

There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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UK Company Orbex Reveals Micro-Launcher Rocket

Prime rocket prototype (Credit: Orbex)

KINLOSS, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency has welcomed news that the British rocket company Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its Prime orbital space rocket.

Orbex’s Prime rocket reaching technical readiness represents a significant achievement that brings together key elements of the ground infrastructure and prototype launch vehicle for the first time and is a major step forward for the company and for the UK launch industry.

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Orbex and FORCE Technology Win ESA Contract to Develop Advanced Rocket Engine Testing

New X-Ray Inspection System will ensure reliability and safety of Orbex rocket engines

FORRES, UK, March 22, 2022 (Orbex PR) – Orbex and FORCE Technology have been awarded a new contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to further develop an X-Ray Inspection System for rocket engines.

The system will enable the two firms to carry out non-destructive, high-energy X-ray inspections of Orbex’s large-scale 3D-printed rocket engines prior to flight, using advanced technology to eliminate any internal flaws. It will become a key component of the Orbex engine testing regime, reinforcing the reliability and safety credentials of the Orbex ‘Prime’ rocket.

The award is the sixth development contract that Orbex has received from the ESA. It will work closely with FORCE Technology to develop the technology – and will become one of the first launch operators to use it.

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Orbex Prepares for Rocket Launch ‘Dress Rehearsals’ as Launch Pad Arrives at Test Site

New film shows ‘Orbex LP1’ launch platform’s 80-mile road trip across Scotland and construction

FORRES, UK, February 15, 2022 (Orbex PR) – The first rocket launchpad constructed in the UK for more than 50 years is now in place at the Orbex test site in Kinloss, Scotland.

The new launchpad – known as ‘Orbex LP1’ – recently completed an 80-mile road trip from Peterhead to Kinloss on two trucks, accompanied by a police escort. The three-hour journey through the dramatic Scottish countryside during sun, rain and snow was captured in a short film shown above.

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Orbex Applies for Licence to Launch First Rockets from Scotland

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

FORRES, UK, 3 February 2022 (Orbex PR)  – Orbex has submitted its application to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a launch licence, the latest stage on its roadmap to beginning commercial space launches from the UK.

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Orbex Begins Construction of New Rocket Launchpad in the UK

Launch complex (Credit: Orbex)

FORRES, UK, December 9, 2021 (Orbex PR) – Orbex, Europe’s leading private small satellite launch services provider, has today announced it has started construction of its first state-of-the-art Launch Platform, the first orbital space launchpad to be built in the UK for more than half a century.

Orbex has commissioned Motive Offshore Group, a leading Scottish company specialising in the design and manufacture of marine and lifting equipment, to fabricate and install the Launch Platform at a dedicated test site near Kinloss, close to the Orbex headquarters in Forres, Scotland.

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Orbex Set to Launch World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Space Rocket

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)
  • New scientific study confirms Orbex Prime’s carbon footprint up to 96 per cent lower than fossil fuelled alternatives
  • Orbex commits to offsetting all residual carbon emissions from launch operations

FORRES, UK, October 21, 2021 – The carbon footprint of launching the new Orbex Prime space rocket will be up to 96 per cent lower than comparable space launch programmes, a new scientific study has revealed.

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Scottish Billionaire Ends Legal Challenge to Space Hub Sutherland

Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Space Hub Sutherland in Scotland can move forward without a legal challenge now that billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has decided to abandon his fight against the launch complex planned for A’Mhoine peninsula. The richest man in Scotland had challenged the plans over concerns about its environmental impact, but lost in court last month.

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ESA Provides €10.45 Million to Support Orbex & Skyrora Launch Vehicle Development

Skyrora XL lifts off the launch pad. (Credit: Skyrora)

PARIS (ESA PR) — As part of its Boost! programme, ESA has signed two new contracts which support UK-based Orbex and Skyrora in their separate proposals for new commercial launch services for small satellites. These services are set to start in the UK from 2022.

ESA has awarded €7.45 million [£6.42 million/$8.11 million] of co-funding to Orbex and its partners, and €3 million [£2.59 million/$3.55 million] to Skyrora.

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Orbex Commissions Largest Industrial 3D Printer in Europe for Rapid Rocket Building

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) — Orbex has commissioned AMCM to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK-based space launch company to rapidly print complex rocket engines in-house. The custom-made, large volume 3D printer will allow Orbex to print more than 35 large-scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually, as the company scales up its production capabilities for launches.

The multi-million pound deal was signed with AMCM, following a series of successful trials printing various large-scale rocket components over a number of months. AMCM will deliver a complete printing suite with post-processing machinery and ‘Machine Vision’ systems, providing automatic imaging-based inspection of printed components. To accommodate the new machinery, Orbex is expanding its factory floor space by an additional 1,000 m².

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Orbex Secures $24 Million Funding Round for UK Space Launch

Prime launch vehicle (Credit: Orbex)
  • New funding secures roadmap to first launch from Sutherland spaceport in Scotland
  • Orbex is 1st UK space-sector company to win prestigious Horizon 2020 funding

Forres, UK, 10th December 2020 – Orbex, the innovative European space launch company, has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF, the UK’s most active investment company, and Octopus Ventures, one of the largest VCs in Europe.

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Lockheed Martin’s Move to Shetland Spaceport Boosts UK’s Plans for Satellite Launches

  • Lockheed Martin to develop UK launch operations from Shetland Space Centre on the island of Unst.
  • Orbex and Highlands and Islands Enterprise continue to advance launch plans from Space Hub Sutherland.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Hundreds of space jobs will be created in Scotland following the approval of plans for Lockheed Martin to transfer its satellite launch operations to Shetland Space Centre by the UK government.

Shetland Space Centre anticipates that by 2024, the spaceport site could support a total of 605 jobs in Scotland including 140 locally and 210 across the wider Shetland region. A further 150 jobs will also be created through wider manufacturing and support services.

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Orbex Hails Sutherland Spaceport Approval

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) – The first orbital spaceflight from the United Kingdom has come a step closer following the Highland Council’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex, the UK-based space launch company, has confirmed that Orbex Prime will be the first vertical launch vehicle to fly into orbit from the Space Hub, which will be constructed near Melness on the northern coast of Scotland. Orbex today confirmed the company has already signed six launch contracts.

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