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£16.7million boost for space rocket manufacturer 

Orbex has announced a £16.7m investment to ramp up the development of its new rocket.

Prime is a 19m long, 2-stage rocket, designed to transport small satellites into low earth orbit.

The cash comes from 6 backers, including £10.5m follow-on investment from the Scottish National Investment Bank, venture capital firms Octopus Ventures, BGF, Heartcore, the Export & Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO) and a number of corporate and angel investors.

This follows creation of a new leadership team of scale-up expert Phillip Chambers and former Director General of the Spanish Space Agency Miguel Belló Mora. Chambers himself became an investor in the firm’s £40m Series C funding round in 2022.

“Orbex is one of only two space rocket manufacturers in the UK, and the only one to also operate its own spaceport. Our technology is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and we are entering a critical phase of development. We are building a sustainable, cost-effective launch vehicle to compete with the best of Europe’s spaceflight manufacturers,” said Chambers.

“This additional funding will support our goal to push on into an operational launch phase, and scale our business when the time comes.”

The Scottish company now has 2 active patents in a number of European countries and the United States covering various parts of its rocket technology. Powered by renewable bio-fuel this means it can reduce carbon emissions “significantly” compared to other similarly sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world.

“The Bank recognises the unique potential the space industry offers for Scotland. We are perfectly placed to leverage our geographical location, vibrant business and innovation landscape, and our skilled workers to be one of the most significant global players in this growing industry,” added Nicola Douglas, Executive Director of Innovation at the Scottish National Investment Bank,.

“At the Bank, we have been particularly drawn to Orbex’s commitment to sustainability through its use of renewable biofuel and launch technology, all working towards the goal of carbon neutrality. Its approach perfectly aligns to our net zero and innovation missions. This follow-on investment comes at an exciting time as Orbex expands its manufacturing and looks to complete its Sutherland Spaceport this year.”

With testing and launch now in its sights, Orbex will soon enter a new phase of growth with a Series D funding round, which will aim to secure its long-term prospects “as the leading orbital launch business in Europe.”

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