Rocket-maker Orbex lands multi-million-pound boost from SNIB to fuel growth

Moray-based rocket-manufacturer Orbex is aiming to catalyse its operations after landing a £40 million Series C funding round led by the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB), which provided nearly half of the total.

The state-backed lender has pushed the button on scale-up support of £17.8m in the fundraise that is a major boost for Scotland’s burgeoning space sector. Orbex said the cash injection will help it unlock major additional funding sources to boost plans for future projects, and has seen further backing from existing investors Octopus Ventures, BGF, Heartcore Capital, and High-Tech Gründerfonds.

Other new names in the fundraise include Jacobs, which is described as NASA's largest services-provider and has worked on the likes of the Mars Perseverance Rover, the Artemis deep space human exploration program, and the Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness; The Danish Green Future Fund; Swiss venture capital firm Verve Ventures; and British entrepreneurs Phillip and James Chambers, founders of Peakon and Hazport respectively.

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Orbex noted that earlier this year it unveiled a prototype of its small satellite-launcher, ahead of a debut flight from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in coming months, adding that the Prime rocket will be the first orbital rocket to be powered by a renewable bio-fuel said to help reduce the carbon footprint of a launch by up to 96 percent compared with equivalents powered by fossil fuels.

From left: Alastair McMillen of the Scottish National Development Bank, Nicola Douglas of the SNIB, and Orbex chief financial officer Simon Beswick at Orbex facilities in Forres, Moray. Picture: contributed.
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The Forres-based firm, which in August said it would be adding 50 staff over the subsequent six months, says the six engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel it to an altitude of around 80 kilometres, while the single engine on the second stage will complete the journey to low earth orbit, allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites, many of which will be used for earth observation and environmental monitoring, into the Earth's orbit.

Orbex chief executive Chris Larmour said: “This new funding round... will allow us to continue to build Orbex towards our long-term goal of building a reliable, economically successful and environmentally sustainable European space launch business.”

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Nicola Douglas, executive director of the SNIB, said: “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, which will help deliver jobs and prosperity for the space sector and the wider economy.”



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