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UK Launch Company Orbex Secures £40.4 Million Series C Round

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 18, 2022
Prime launch vehicle (Credit: Orbex)

FORRES, UK, October 18, 2022 – UK-based spaceflight company Orbex has secured a £40.4 million ($45.7 million) Series C funding round as it works toward the first launch of its Prime micro-launcher from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland.

The round was led by a new investor, Scottish National Investment Bank. Other new investors included:

  • Jacobs, the global technology-forward solutions company that is NASA’s largest services provider.
  • Danish Green Future Fund, a special investment fund designed to support the transition to green solutions both in Denmark and worldwide. The investment will be managed on behalf of the fund by Vækstfonden – the sovereign investment fund of Denmark.
  • Verve Ventures, a network and technology-driven venture capital firm headquartered in Switzerland.
  • British entrepreneurs Phillip and James Chambers, founders of Peakon and Hazport, respectively.

Existing investors BGF, Heartcore Capital, High-Tech Gründerfonds and Octopus Ventures also contributed to the round.

“We´re delighted to have closed this new funding round led by the Scottish National Investment Bank,” said Orbex CEO Chris Larmour. “Orbex has made significant progress to get to this point, with the invention of ground-breaking, innovative technology, the rapid development and testing of the launch vehicle, the expansion of our manufacturing footprint in the UK and Denmark, the creation of the UK´s first orbital spaceport in mainland Scotland, and the growth in customers from the UK, Europe and America signing up to launch dedicated payloads with Orbex.”

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket designed to transport small satellites weighing up to 180 kg into low Earth orbit.

Orbex´s rocket will launch from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport near Tongue on the North coast of mainland Scotland, which is expected to be the UK´s first operational spaceport. Orbex applied for a space launch licence from the UK´s Civil Aviation Authority in early 2022.

“This is a very exciting time for the Scottish space sector. With Orbex, we will have a rocket assembled in Scotland, launching from Scotland and likely transporting satellites built in Scotland into orbit. This investment is a great example of the Bank working with other investors to support scale-ups in Scotland and aligns with our mission to invest in innovation and the industries of the future,” said Scottish National Investment Bank Executive Director Nicola Douglas.

“We’re building a full end-to-end commercial space ecosystem in Scotland and we’re proud to play our part in this funding round, which will help deliver jobs and prosperity for the space sector and the wider economy,” Douglas added.

The innovative Prime rocket will be the first orbital rocket to be powered by a renewable bio-fuel, Calor’s Futuria Liquid Gas, a form of bio-propane which will play a part in reducing the carbon footprint of space launches by up to 96 per cent when compared with similarly-sized launch vehicles powered by fossil fuels.

Orbex is currently performing a wide variety of integration tests, including the testing of the main propellant tanks and engines, as well as testing launch procedures including rollout, strongback erection and fuelling procedures in advance of the first launch, which will carry a payload developed by one of the world´s largest small satellite developers, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited.

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