Orbex, a UK-based space launch company, has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF and Octopus Ventures. Existing investors High-Tech Gründerfonds, Heartcore Capital and Elecnor S.A. (parent company of the multi-national space firm Deimos Space) also participated. The new investment funds the roadmap toward the first launch from the Sutherland spaceport in Scotland, which is slated for sometime in 2022. Developed as an environmentally sustainable launch system, the Orbex Prime rocket uses bio-propane, a renewable biofuel that reportedly cuts CO2 emissions by 90 percent compared to traditional kerosene-based rocket fuels. Designed to be recoverable and re-usable, the rocket should leave no debris in the ocean or in orbit around the Earth. The company is constructing the Orbex Prime at factories in Forres, near Inverness in Scotland, and in Copenhagen.
“This is great for Forres, Moray and the Highlands and marks further strong progress for Orbex,” said Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee. “Our aim is for Scotland to secure a £4 billion slice of the global space market by 2030 — an ambitious but realistic target.” The startup also received a €2.5 million grant from the European Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme to support the development of patented coaxial tanking technology. In 2018, Orbex won £5.5 million in grant funding from the UK Space Agency’s Launch UK programme and closed a £30 million funding round.
Photo: The Orbex Prime rocket