Orbex has submitted its application to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a launch license, the latest stage on its roadmap to beginning commercial space launches from the UK.
Orbex has already successfully completed pre-application meetings with the CAA, the UK’s new space regulator. It has now progressed to the application stage, becoming one of the first UK launch operators to do so. The license application process is another key milestone in the journey that will see Orbex begin rocket launches from Space Hub Sutherland in the North of Scotland.
The CAA launch license ensures that operators meet the regulatory requirements set by the UK’s Space Industry Act 2018 (SIA) and Space Industry Regulations 2021 (SIR). This legislation was recently introduced by the UK government to support its national space strategy.
Space Hub Sutherland is the world’s first, carbon neutral spaceport and the only spaceport in the UK to have received full planning permission. Construction of the spaceport is due to begin later this year.
Meanwhile, 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.
Prime is a micro-launcher designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit. Is it poised to become the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket with a carbon footprint up to 96 percent lower than comparable space launch programs.
Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said, “This license application is another big step forward for Orbex, and is one of several tracks running in parallel that will enable commercial launch operations to commence from Sutherland. The application process is rigorous and detailed, with a strong focus on safety. It has taken a large team more than two years to complete the investigations and analysis required to submit the license application today. We are looking forward to working with the Civil Aviation Authority over the coming months as they assess our application.”
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design and testing facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA, Ariane and several commercial spaceflight organisations. The company is now funded by two of the UK’s largest and most active venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, who join two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as strategic investor Elecnor, parent company of Deimos Space, the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 program.