Home   News   Article

Orbex announces start of work on rocket launch platform in development of huge interest to north Highlands space hub supporters

By Caroline McMorran

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Rocket manufacturing firm Orbex, which is expected to be the main user of Space Hub Sutherland, has announced it has started building its first state-of-the art launch platform.

Orbex has commissioned marine and lifting equipment design and manufacturing company Motive Offshore Group, to fabricate and install the launch platform at a test site near Kinloss, close to Orbex’s Forres headquarters.

An artist’s visualisation of Orbex's new launchpad facility which is being constructed at a test site near Kinloss.
An artist’s visualisation of Orbex's new launchpad facility which is being constructed at a test site near Kinloss.

The firm says that the launch platform will replicate operations intended at Space Hub Sutherland and will be the first orbital launchpad constructed in the UK in more than 50 years since the High Down Rocket Test Site facility on the Isle of Wight, which was decommissioned in the early 1970s.

The new launch platform will be used to test Orbex's Prime rocket, a micro-launcher designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit.

Although actual launches of the rocket will not take place at the Kinloss site, the launch platform will be fully capable of launching an orbital rocket, allowing for full “dress rehearsals” of launch procedures.

Known known as Orbex LP1 the launch platform is expected to be fully operational by early 2022. Construction of the spaceport is due to begin early in 2022 ahead of the first expected launch of Orbex Prime later in the year.

Orbex chief executive Chris Larmour said: “The ability for our engineers to test Prime on its own launchpad is a major advancement on the roadmap to launch.

“We are happy to already be constructing this major piece of infrastructure with Motive Offshore, a partner which has a very strong track record in other relevant industries.

“This will be the first launchpad of its kind built in the UK for more than half a century and we look forward to seeing it completed and ready to go into service.”

James Gregg, chief operating officer at Motive Offshore Group, said: “Motive Offshore Group welcomes the opportunity to work with Orbex on this exciting project.

“Whilst the aerospace arena may be new territory for Motive, we are completely focused on the standards and performance required to deliver outstanding custom engineering, so very much look forward to transferring our skills and expertise on this project.”

Crofters backing north Highland space hub bid praised by MSP

POLL: Do you back the development of a Sutherland Space Hub

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More