New 3D Printed Rocket Engine to Launch from Scotland in 2021
Scotland-based rocket company Orbex has publicly unveiled a new type of 3D printed rocket engine to propel cargo into orbit.
Private space company, Orbex, has unveiled a new type of 3D printed rocket engine, which it says is stronger than more traditional rockets. According to the company it is the largest 3D printed rocket in the world and the most efficient small satellite launcher.
The new rocket, Prime, is scheduled to launch in 2021 with an experimental payload from Surrey Satellite Technology LTD.
The rocket was unveiled at the company’s base in Forres at an opening ceremony attended by VIPs from the UK and European space community as well as local community stakeholders.
Manufactured in a single piece without any joins, Orbex says the 3D printed rocket engine is stronger and less likely to suffer from weaknesses in the joins and around welds. It is built from specially-formulated lightweight carbon fibre and an aluminium composite.
The company states that Prime is 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, with significantly more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers.
With the goal of cutting carbon emissions related to putting rockets in space, the company has designed Prime to work with bio-propane which is a cleaner, renewable energy source than most rocket fuels.
Orbex claims its fuel is 100% renewable and cuts carbon emissions by 90%. Prime is capable of taking satellites into Earth’s orbit to altitudes of up to 776 miles (1,250 km).
At the launch of its Prime rocket, Orbex revealed that Swiss company ASTROCAST had selected it to launch multiple nano-satellites for the development of a planet-wide Internet of Things (IoT) network. While Spanish firm Elecnor Deimos wants it to launch up to 20 satellites.
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.”