Orbex readies first launch
August 24, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Kinloss, Scotland-based rocket launch services company, Orbex, is hiring 50 new staff in readiness for what it describes as “the company’s final push” for the first vertical rocket launch from UK soil.
Many of the new jobs will support integrated testing of the complete rocket at the Orbex LP1 launch platform test facility at Kinloss. The facility allows for full ‘dress rehearsals’ of rocket launches at Kinloss, situated a few miles from the Orbex headquarters in Forres in Moray, Scotland.
Orbex’s reusable rocket, the 19-metre long Prime vehicle is powered by 7 engines, is expected to launch later this year or early in 2023.
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design and testing facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA, Ariane and several commercial spaceflight organisations. The company is now funded by two of the UK’s largest and most active venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, who join two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as strategic investor Elecnor, parent company of Deimos Space, the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.
“The new roles will also strengthen existing teams responsible for key areas of development of the rocket, including propulsion, structures, avionics, CNC machining and embedded software. Other recruitment areas will facilitate communications between ground staff and the rocket in flight, covering fields such as GNC (guidance, navigation & control) systems, sensors, data capture, ground segment software, and radio engineering,” says Orbex.
Orbex recently revealed the full rocket in its final form, making this the first full orbital micro-launcher to be unveiled in Europe. The innovative Orbex Prime rocket will be the first orbital rocket to be powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, which will reduce carbon emissions by up to 96 percent. The sustainability credentials extend to the company’s ‘home’ spaceport of Space Hub Sutherland on the North coast of Scotland, which aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceport. Prime is a ‘micro-launcher’ rocket designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit.
Richard Lochhead, Scottish Government Employment Minister, said: “These jobs will bring us a step closer to achieving our ambition of 20,000 jobs in the Scottish space sector by 2030. Orbex is bringing high-value jobs to Moray while inspiring the study of science and engineering – which will help create future rocket scientists. Companies like Orbex are vital to achieving the aims of our newly published National Strategy for Economic Transformation that will support a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex. Added: “We have already tripled the size of our team over the last twelve months. And now, the roles we’re recruiting for are the clearest demonstration that we’re in the final countdown to launch from UK soil.”