Orbex signs 50-year lease at Sutherland spaceport

The British startup rocket company Orbex has signed a 50-year lease to operate its own launchpad at the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland.

The company will lease Space Hub Sutherland from a local development agency for an initial period of 50 years with an option to extend for a further 25 years. Orbex will soon commence construction at the 10-acre launch site on the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland. The bulk of the construction work will be contracted out to technology solutions company Jacobs, which also does a lot of work for NASA.

The company hopes to launch its Prime rocket in ’23. At present it is testing launch operations of a prototype on its launchpad. All told, Orbex has raised a little over $100 million in private investment capital.

Rocket startup Orbex raises another $45 million

The British-based rocket startup company Orbex announced today that it has successfully raised another $45 million in private investment capital, adding to the $63 million it had previously raised.

Orbex is developing Prime, a small launch vehicle designed to place up to 180 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The vehicle, built by the company at a factory in Forres, Scotland, will launch initially from Space Hub Sutherland, a new launch site under development in northern Scotland.

“With Orbex, we will have a rocket assembled in Scotland, launching from Scotland and likely transporting satellites built in Scotland into orbit,” said Nicola Douglas, executive director of the Scottish National Investment Bank, in a statement. “We’re building a full end-to-end commercial space ecosystem in Scotland and we’re proud to play our part in this funding round.”

The company is targeting 2023 for its first launch from the new spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.

Orbex applies for UK launch license

Capitalism in space: The British smallsat rocket company Orbex has now submitted its application for a launch license to the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The press release does not mention a launch date, but it does state that ground tests of Orbex’s Prime rocket, designed to launch smallsats, are about to begin.

The Orbex ‘Prime’ rocket is soon to be tested on the Orbex LP1 launch platform at a facility in Kinloss, close to the Orbex headquarters in Forres, where full ‘dress rehearsals’ of launch procedures will take place.

Actual launches will take place at Space Hub Sutherland in Scotland. A previous announcement in 2020 had suggested the first launch would occur in ’22. Whether that date can still be met is unclear, but without doubt Orbex is moving forward towards launch.