British company Orbex is constructing a state-of-the-art rocket test facility in Kinloss, Scotland, this move has been welcomed by the UK Space Agency.
Commenting on the construction of the rocket test facility, Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “The construction of this new facility marks another major milestone in our ambitions to become a modern, agile spacefaring nation. Orbex is an innovative spaceflight company developing its own launch vehicle which will be tested at this new facility, before launching from Space Hub Sutherland.”
This is a very exciting time for the UK space sector, as the country moves towards to the first ever satellite launches from UK soil next year.
Orbex has commissioned Motive Offshore Group to build the test launch platform, known as Orbex LP1, which will assist in the testing of Orbex’s Prime rocket, which has been designed with the intention of transporting small satellites to low Earth orbit.
The UK Space Agency backed the development of Orbex’s Prime Rocket with £5.5m of funding, as part of the government’s plans to enable small satellite launch from UK spaceports.
Although Orbex will operate its launches from Space Hub Sutherland, the test launch platform at Kinloss will enable full ‘dress rehearsals’ of launch procedures.
Space Hub Sutherland is one of seven potential spaceport sites across the UK and is being built by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The spaceport is projected to lead to the creation of approximately around 60 jobs in Caithness and Sutherland, and a total of 250 jobs in the wider region.
Founded in 2015, Orbex is a UK-based private, low-cost orbital launch services company, catering to the requirements of the small satellite industry. Orbex has established one of the most advanced, low carbon, high performance micro-launch vehicles in the world.
The government’s vision is for the UK to be at the global forefront of small satellite launch and emerging space transportation markets – providing world-leading capability, bringing new markets to the UK, and inspiring the next generation of British space scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
The core objective of its Spaceflight Programme is to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from UK spaceports from 2022.
Its ambition is for the first UK launches to take place from 2022 and the government has already put in place the Space Industry Act 2018, a flexible high-level regulatory framework.