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ESA awards UK’s Orbex 7.45 million euros to fund rocket development

Capitalism in space: The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded the new United Kingdom smallsat launch company Orbex 7.45 million euros to help fund the development of its Prime rocket.

This will supplement the 4.7 million euros that Orbex has raised from private capital.

The funds from the award will go towards the completion of spaceflight systems in preparation for the first launches of Orbex’s 19-metre ‘microlauncher’ rocket, Prime. €11.25 million of the total funding will be assigned to work undertaken in the UK, in particular the lightweight avionics designed in-house by Orbex in Forres, and the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) software subsystem being designed by Elecnor Deimos, a strategic investor and partner of Orbex. The remaining €900,000 of the total funding package will support the development of the GNC for the orbital phase being developed by Elecnor Deimos for Orbex in Portugal.

If all goes right, Prime will make its first launch from Sutherland, Scotland, in ’22.

The contract award signals the shift at ESA that resembles what happened at NASA in the past decade, moving from designing and building its rockets and spacecraft to buying the product from private companies. While ESA might be providing a large bulk of the capital to develop Prime, it appears ESA is not involving itself heavily in the development itself, leaving that instead to the company.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

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