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Orbex to expand facilities in Scotland and Denmark

The British rocket startup Orbex today announced that it is expanding its factory and office space in its facilities in Scotland and Denmark, the former at its facility it leases at the new spaceport in Sutherland.

The company is adding an extra 1,500 square metres of factory and office space to its existing 4,750 square metre estate in Forres, Scotland and Copenhagen, Denmark. The additional space will increase the company’s launch vehicle production and propulsion system manufacturing capacity and add an extra software laboratory and an avionics clean room space with ISO 8 and ISO 9 sections. The additional capacity in Forres is just 3km from its test site at Kinloss, allowing for quick turnaround between the two sites, as Orbex ramps up its testing in the countdown to launch.

The press release doesn’t give any information about the expansion in Denmark. I wonder if it is occurring as a hedge against the kind of bureaucratic delays in the UK that destroyed Virgin Orbit. Orbex’s Prime rocket is presently under construction in Scotland, with its first launch planned for this year out of Sutherland. Whether it can get a launch permit promptly is doubtful, based on the fifteen months it took Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to approve Virgin Orbit. Orbex applied for the launch license in February 2022 (seventeen months ago) and so far there is no word from CAA about its approval.

Other Scandinavian spaceports are under construction in Sweden and Norway, which suggests establishing facilities in Denmark could strengthen Orbex’s ties to these new spaceports, especially in Sweden as both Sweden and Denmark are members of the European Union. Norway meanwhile as strong trades ties to the EU. Orbex has also signed a deal with Arianespace to launch ESA payloads, and it could be those launches could occur in French Guiana.

It seems wise if Orbex prepares for launch problems in the UK. Today’s announcement could be signalling that preparation.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

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  • David M. Cook

    After what happened to Virgin Orbit, why would any sane company even attempt to launch from the UK? Clearly, the socialist UK government doesn‘t want any new private industry to get a foothold in (formerly) Great Britain.

  • David M. Cook: Orbex however has a problem. It already has a 50 year lease at Sutherland to launch, and its rocket facility is there. They are dependent on the UK allowing them to launch. If blocked, it will hurt them badly.

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