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posted by hubie on Friday May 13, @09:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the age-of-the-microsat dept.

UK company reveals micro-launcher 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 U.K. launch industry.

[...] Orbex Prime will launch from Space Hub Sutherland, a new spaceport on the North Coast of Scotland. Space Hub Sutherland was the first vertical spaceport to receive planning permission in the U.K. and has committed to being carbon-neutral, both in its construction and operation.

[...] Orbex Prime is a 19-meter long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines, that is being designed and manufactured in the U.K. and Denmark. The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites into Earth's orbit.

Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex, said: "This is a major milestone for Orbex and highlights just how far along our development path we now are. From the outside, it might look like an ordinary rocket, but on the inside, Prime is unlike anything else. To deliver the performance and environmental sustainability we wanted from a 21st century rocket we had to innovate in a wide number of areas—low-carbon fuels, fully 3D-printed rocket engines, very lightweight fuel tanks, and a novel, low-mass reusability technology."

Slick Orbex Space promo video on YouTube

They're not making it easy on themselves launching from 58 degrees latitude.


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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:45AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:45AM (#1244704)

    Smallsats usually want Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), which is at 97° inclination. That's the same reason Astra launches from Alaska.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by PiMuNu on Friday May 13, @10:52AM (7 children)

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 13, @10:52AM (#1244705)

      Why is Scotland a prime rocket launch site?

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48119118 [bbc.co.uk]

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Friday May 13, @12:04PM (1 child)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 13, @12:04PM (#1244710) Journal

        That is an interesting link - thank you.

        If you look at the UK, Orbex has 2 sites. One in the north of Scotland and the other in the SW of England. This is the limit imposed by the size of the UK.

        The Kinloss site in Scotland is well positioned for testing purposes. It is a former military airfield , currently an army base so has some features of security, it has good communication links and it is on the coast. Experimental launches over the sea are far safer than launches over land where any failure is likely to cause more damage and pose a risk to people. It is also easily accessible by the partner nation Denmark.

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      • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Friday May 13, @02:43PM (4 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 13, @02:43PM (#1244742) Journal

        Why is Scotland a prime rocket launch site?

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48119118 [bbc.co.uk]

        Okay, that explains why the launch site is Prime.

        But what about the rocket being Prime . . . ?

        Orbex Prime is a 19-meter long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines

        Ah, seven engines. That explains it.

        3 is prime
        5 is prime
        7 is prime
        So it stands to reason the Falcon 9 could also be considered a Prime rocket.

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    • (Score: 3, Informative) by janrinok on Friday May 13, @12:10PM (1 child)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 13, @12:10PM (#1244711) Journal
      Look at a map - there is an overlap in latitudes.
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