Orbex, a rocket company which plans to develop and launch vehicles from a brand new base in has opened its headquarters in Forres, Moray. The firm has also unveiled a 3D printed rocket engine to propel cargo into space.
The 3D printing technology has produced what the company claims is the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine.
The engine, the company said, is manufactured in a single piece without any joins. That means it’s stronger and less likely to suffer from weaknesses in the joins and around welds.
The rocket itself is built from specially-formulated lightweight carbon fibre and an aluminium composite.
The company says it is scheduled to launch in 2021 carrying an experimental payload from Surrey Satellite Technology LTD.
The design is also engineered to work with bio-propane which is a cleaner, renewable energy source than most rocket fuels. The goal is to cut carbon emissions relating to putting rockets in space.
The company claims it’s fuel is 100 per cent renewable and cuts carbon emissions by 90 per cent.
To house the rocket and engineering staff Orbex has built a 2,000 square metre HQ in Forres, in the north east of Scotland. It says the facility will create 130 jobs in the region.
Scotland’s innovation minister Ivan McKee told PA Scotland “The new Orbex facility at Forres is an incredibly welcome development for Scotland’s space sector.”
“It brings us one step closer to reaching our ambitions of hosting the first orbital launch facilities in Europe and will complete our full offering to build, launch and operate satellites right here in Scotland”.
And Chris Larmour, Orbex chief executive said “Since the announcement in July 2018 that we had been chosen to launch from the Sutherland spaceport, Orbex has been on an incredible journey, largely behind-the scenes.
“That is changing today, as we publicly reveal the company’s technical and commercial momentum”.
“Not only do we have a full engineering prototype of the complete Stage 2 of the Prime rocket, but also a growing roster of customers hoping to be among the first to launch satellites from Scotland”.