Full-scale prototype of Prime

Full-scale prototype of Prime

May 12, 2022 – The first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket developed by Orbex with the support of Deimos has been publicly shown on its dedicated launch pad in Scotland for the first time.

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket powered by seven engines that will be launched through the atmosphere to deploy its payload of small, commercial satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Prime launchers will be up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category.

Deimos is developing the launcher’s flight control subsystem or GNC – Guidance, Navigation and Control – which manages the autonomy and autopilot of the rocket. Deimos Space UK is leading the Deimos contribution, assuming the development of the subsystem for the atmospheric/ascending flight phase and the autonomous fault management, test benches and post-flight analysis. Deimos Engenharia in Portugal is in charge of the GNC to the orbital phase once the launcher leaves the atmosphere.

Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, allowing a reduction of carbon emissions in 96% when compared to other space launch systems using fossil fuels, according to a study by the University of Exeter.

‘This is a great achievement for Orbex and we are very proud to be part of this process’, says Ismael Lopez, CEO of Elecnor Deimos, ‘We have to thank again ESA, UK Space Agency and Portuguese Space Agency for their support and efforts in promoting Europe’s sustainable launch initiatives’.

Nuno Ávila, Managing Director of Deimos Engenharia in Portugal, adds: ‘The Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) system is one of the most important systems in a launcher, on a par with propulsion, and certainly the one implementing more intelligence. Leading the orbital phase of PRIME is a privilege to DEIMOS and a major milestone for the Portuguese engineering.’

With the first full integration of Prime on a launch pad now complete, the launcher will now enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of launches and development and optimisation of launch procedures.

About Orbex
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 programme.

Pictures: Orbex