Scottish spaceflight company Orbex has secured £40.4 million in a Series C round that aims to fuel all remaining pre-flight checks as the company gears up for the first vertical launch from UK soil. The new resources will help the company shore up additional funding to support future projects. To date, Orbex has raised the company has raised approximately £96.5 million.
This latest funding round saw a renewed commitment from existing investors BGF, Heartcore Capital, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Octopus Ventures, alongside new investors including The Scottish National Investment Bank, NASA services provider Jacobs, The Danish Green Future Fund managed by Vækstfonden – the sovereign investment fund of Denmark, Switzerland’s Verve Ventures, and British entrepreneurs Phillip and James Chambers, founders of Peakon and Hazport respectively.
In May of this year, Orbex made history by revealing its 19-metre-long “Prime” rocket, marking not only the first full orbital micro-launcher to be unveiled in Europe but one powered by a renewable bio-fuel, Calor’s Futuria Liquid Gas, a form of bio-propane that will play a part in reducing the carbon footprint of space launches by up to 96 percent when compared with similarly-sized launch vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
While no definitive date can be provided at present, Orbex representatives confirmed that the 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. The company applied for a space launch licence from the UK´s Civil Aviation Authority in early 2022.
“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,” commented Orbex CEO Chris Lamour.
At present all systems are a go, with Orbex performing a number of integration tests, including the main propellant tanks and engines, as well as launch procedures including rollout and fuelling procedures in advance of the first launch. Prime’s maiden voyage is slated to carry a payload developed by industry-leading small satellite developer, Surrey Satellite Technology.
On the investment, Heartcore Partner and Co-founder Jimmy Fussing Nielsen commented, “With the announced funding, we are convinced that Orbex will be the first in decades to launch from European soil. Satellite companies hoping to ride-share on a ‘bus’ from the US, India, China or Kazakhstan will soon realise that a dedicated ‘Uber-ride’ to space is undoubtedly better for business.”