UK space launch startup Orbex raises $24 million for its reusable rockets

U.K.-based Orbex has raised a new $24 million funding round, led by BGF and Octopus Ventures, and including participation from existing investors High-Tech Gründerfonds, Heartcore Capital and Elecnor S.A. This new investment helps “secure the road map” that Orbex was already working toward regarding its launch vehicle development and deployment, which is currently targeting 2022 for its first commercial launches.

Orbex is set to launch its Orbex Prime rocket from the new Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland, and has six launch contracts on the books. Its debut launch vehicle is a small payload rocket, which is unique in the industry in that it makes use of bio-propane, a fuel source that offers 90% emissions reduction versus the traditional kerosene-based rocket fuels generally used for liquid rockets, and which is a renewable fuel source. Orbex also aims to reduce its impact in other ways, including through recoverability and reusability, and says that Prime’s design is intended to leave no post-launch debris either in the ocean on Earth, or even in orbit.

The startup is already in the process of building out its first Prime rockets, at two factories it operates in Scotland and in Denmark. The company uses 3D-printing heavily in its rocket fabrication process. It has raised around $63 million to date, with its last round of around $39 million announced in 2018.