Author Topic: Orbex  (Read 54390 times)

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Orbex
« on: 07/11/2017 02:26 pm »
Orbex wins Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Grant for Space Launch Vehicle Tanks

London, 11 July 2017: Orbex, the UK-based developer of launch vehicles and services for small satellites, has won a prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award.

The grant was awarded to assist in the development of an innovative space launch vehicle fuel tank architecture developed by Orbex, which reduces the dry mass of launch vehicles by as much as 30% compared to traditional technologies.

“It’s a welcome validation of our innovative, patent-pending structural technology and a confirmation that we are addressing a really significant problem with a globally-relevant market opportunity,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex. “Orbex engineers have already developed functional prototypes of the system, complete with cryogenic cooling systems and instrumentation, and we’re confident it works.”

With 2,030 entrants in the cohort, the SME Instrument awards are exceptionally competitive, and only 7 companies across Europe were awarded a space-related grant in the same period. Orbex is one of the first UK space sector companies to win an SME Instrument award.

“This kind of technology is really crucial in vehicles of this class, where every extra kilogram makes a difference to efficiency and performance,” said Kristian von Bengtson, Orbex CTO. “We’ve carefully studied several options and designed a solution that is really elegant and simple to execute, but that also delivers an enormous benefit in terms of mass and complexity reduction.”

The SME Instrument programme is designed to assist internationally-oriented SMEs in implementing high-risk and high-potential innovation ideas. It aims at supporting projects with a European dimension that lead to major changes in how business is done.

Orbex recently announced an investment by one of Europe’s largest VC funds, as well as the existence of a large rocket vehicle production facility that had previously been kept under wraps.

--

They write a nice press release but where are the pictures that prove they are actually doing stuff?
« Last Edit: 03/22/2018 07:40 pm by ringsider »

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex wins some money for tanks
« Reply #1 on: 07/17/2017 07:12 pm »
Another article on Orbex in the UK press:-

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/all-systems-go-for-second-launch-bid-at-spaceport-rv0ztx6r0

--

They are being quite coy with images, but I wonder if they have actually been doing stuff?

This image seems to indicate some real worid work going on - my spidey sense says they have cropped it deliberately to hide some details, especially the size:-



And the title of that image is "Engine-Detail.jpg"...
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 04:38 pm by Chris Bergin »

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #2 on: 09/03/2017 03:25 pm »
« Last Edit: 09/03/2017 03:42 pm by ringsider »

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2017 01:02 pm »
There are some new operations-type photos on Twitter: @orbexspace



They are very careful not to show anything "real" in public, but you can see that image has been cropped - I suspect there is something interesting to the left of that truck, near that fence.
« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 01:03 pm by ringsider »

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5152
  • Liked: 1002
  • Likes Given: 342
Re: Orbex
« Reply #4 on: 10/08/2017 07:21 pm »
https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/917006401867837440

Quote
1st public presentation of Orbex tech will be at the Royal Aeronautical Society President's Conference on 22/11/17
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #5 on: 10/16/2017 11:47 am »
Another cryptic post to Twitter. Looks like a tank at the bottom of the image?

https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/919536482179846144


« Last Edit: 10/16/2017 06:49 pm by ringsider »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #6 on: 11/22/2017 01:32 pm »
https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/917006401867837440

Quote
1st public presentation of Orbex tech will be at the Royal Aeronautical Society President's Conference on 22/11/17

Quote
Chris Larmour, Orbex: developing a launch vehicle capable of delivering 165 kg into sun-synchronous orbit. Been working quietly last few years, in process of closing a 4th round of funding. #Space17

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933341441669115904
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 01:34 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #7 on: 11/22/2017 01:38 pm »
Quote
Larmour says this is the first time there’s been a public presentation on the company. Still holding some details close, like the fuel the vehicle uses or spaceport they’re considering. #Space17

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933343414371913728

Edits to addL

Quote
Larmour: have a number of letters of intent, but hope to sign first launch contract for a 50-kg science payload, by year’s end. #Space17

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933343930044878848

Quote
Larmour: won’t name the fuel we’re using, but not RP-1 or methane; doesn’t freeze at LOX temperatures. #Space17

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933344717223485440
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 01:42 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8133
  • Liked: 6781
  • Likes Given: 2961
Re: Orbex
« Reply #8 on: 11/22/2017 02:04 pm »
Quote
Larmour: won’t name the fuel we’re using, but not RP-1 or methane; doesn’t freeze at LOX temperatures. #Space17

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933344717223485440

There are a several short-chain hydrocarbons that fit this description: Propane, Propene, Ethane, Ethene, and 1-Butene.

Propane is the cheapest, offers the best performance with LOX (when subcooled), and can be stored at room temperatures, so that seems most likely to me.

Offline Davidthefat

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
  • Rockets are life.
  • Greater Los Angeles Area, California
  • Liked: 288
  • Likes Given: 71
Re: Orbex
« Reply #9 on: 11/22/2017 02:23 pm »
Is there any reason to not disclose the propellants they are using? Seems like an unnecessary detail to keep secret.

Offline Craftyatom

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 652
  • Software!
  • Arizona, USA
  • Liked: 720
  • Likes Given: 9169
Re: Orbex
« Reply #10 on: 11/22/2017 04:35 pm »
Is there any reason to not disclose the propellants they are using? Seems like an unnecessary detail to keep secret.
It's somewhat related to their tank structure, which (if the press release from July 11th is to be believed) has dry mass savings up to 30%, which is a big deal.  If they're working with a novel process that relies on the fuel type, then keeping it secret might help keep the tank design secret as well.

All baseless speculation, obviously, but that's par for the course when we have so few details :P
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Is there any reason to not disclose the propellants they are using? Seems like an unnecessary detail to keep secret.
It's somewhat related to their tank structure, which (if the press release from July 11th is to be believed) has dry mass savings up to 30%, which is a big deal.  If they're working with a novel process that relies on the fuel type, then keeping it secret might help keep the tank design secret as well.

All baseless speculation, obviously, but that's par for the course when we have so few details
Engine image from Twitter:-

https://twitter.com/RAeSTimR/status/933344493612556288

Looks like a copper heat sink.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 04:55 pm by ringsider »

Offline Craftyatom

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 652
  • Software!
  • Arizona, USA
  • Liked: 720
  • Likes Given: 9169
Is there any reason to not disclose the propellants they are using? Seems like an unnecessary detail to keep secret.
It's somewhat related to their tank structure, which (if the press release from July 11th is to be believed) has dry mass savings up to 30%, which is a big deal.  If they're working with a novel process that relies on the fuel type, then keeping it secret might help keep the tank design secret as well.

All baseless speculation, obviously, but that's par for the course when we have so few details
Engine image from Twitter:-

https://twitter.com/RAeSTimR/status/933344493612556288

Looks like a copper heat sink.
Copied over the high-res image if anyone wants a peek.

I'm guessing the copper is a housing for their cooling system (regen?) rather than an actual heat sink itself, but similar deal.  Also, it could be a diffuser for testing vacuum engines, though I doubt it with that test setup.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
So was anyone at the RAS presentation last night?
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1511
  • the Netherlands
  • Liked: 604
  • Likes Given: 210
 ??? Could Orbex have been testing their engine at Copenhagen Suborbitals?
I think from last year onward a commercial program used the engine stands of Copenhagen suborbitals to test a new engine.

Source: https://twitter.com/RAeSTimR/status/933343225393373184
« Last Edit: 11/24/2017 08:04 am by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline STS-200

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 129
  • UK
  • Liked: 86
  • Likes Given: 8

I'm guessing the copper is a housing for their cooling system (regen?) rather than an actual heat sink itself, but similar deal.  Also, it could be a diffuser for testing vacuum engines, though I doubt it with that test setup.

To me, it appears to be a solid heatsink with sets of thermocouples. Not a practical engine, but a good way of testing heat flows, ignition techniques, injectors and possibly combustion stability. A block that size that should be able to run for a couple of seconds.
There is no reason to put a cooling system in a housing, it just makes it heavier
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5266
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 4992
  • Likes Given: 6458
It's refreshing to see a small launcher start-up doing more and talking less, as we've had so many lately that seem to do the opposite.

Offline Nomic

  • Member
  • Posts: 47
  • Liked: 23
  • Likes Given: 1
Wonder if this is a spin off from KUPG?

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592

To me, it appears to be a solid heatsink with sets of thermocouples. Not a practical engine, but a good way of testing heat flows, ignition techniques, injectors and possibly combustion stability. A block that size that should be able to run for a couple of seconds.
There is no reason to put a cooling system in a housing, it just makes it heavier
Heatsink engines basically rely on the heat capacity of block of metal they are made out of, hence usually copper.

Being fairly simple to construct they are quick (certainly with modern CNC) to make and good to gather data fairly quickly. You don't get bogged down spending money and time developing the test equipment (IE the engine) rather than the thing you want the information to design in the first place. Adding more sensors is a question of drilling more holes, as there are few if any cooling pipes to get in the way.

1-3 secs may not sound long but this stuff can reach steady state very quickly. That's usually the interesting stuff you want to know about (so you need a lot of fast sensors and plenty of storage, a much easier issue than it was in days past. Beyond that it's just "more of the the same" be it 1 second or 1 minute or 1 hour.
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13942
  • UK
  • Liked: 3950
  • Likes Given: 220
More coverage here including an interview with the chief executive  Chris Larmour.

http://spacenews.com/british-company-reveals-details-about-its-smallsat-launch-vehicle/

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #20 on: 03/22/2018 07:42 pm »
« Last Edit: 03/23/2018 03:20 pm by ringsider »

Offline Dao Angkan

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 44
Re: Orbex
« Reply #21 on: 07/16/2018 02:04 pm »
More details on their site.

http://orbex.space/news/orbex-secures-30-million-funding-for-uk-space-launch-vehicles

Quote
Orbex Secures £30 Million Funding for UK Space Launch Vehicles

Rockets to Launch Small Satellites into Orbit from UK Spaceport Using Renewable Fuel

Farnborough, UK, July 16, 2018 – Orbex has announced that it has secured £30 million ($39.6 million) in public and private funding for the development of orbital space launch systems. Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium.

Recently emerging from stealth mode, Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company, with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany. The company has received funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA), two of Europe's largest venture capital funds, Sunstone Technology Ventures and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as private investors, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.

Orbex is constructing a completely re-thought and re-designed orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. The Prime launcher has a novel architecture that eliminates the fundamental mass challenge of small launchers. Prime launchers are up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers. The Prime vehicle will launch satellites to altitudes up to 1,250km, inserting them into sun-synchronous or polar orbits.

“It is our ethos to invest in exceptional entrepreneurs with bold visions,” said Jimmy Fussing Nielsen, Managing Partner of Sunstone Technology Ventures. “Behind the scenes, Orbex has made huge strides forward over the past three years, reaching a level of technical and commercial sophistication that is surprising for a young company. This explains why Orbex has been able to attract such high-profile public and private backers, as well as experienced team members. Just out of stealth mode, Orbex is already well on its way to becoming the leading private space launch company in Europe.”

Minimising the environmental impact of launches was a key consideration in the rocket’s design. Prime is a low-mass and low-carbon launcher, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to old-fashioned hydrocarbon fuels. The rocket uses a novel zero-shock staging system called Magic, which leaves zero orbital debris. It also features a novel reusability concept, with an innovative new low mass recovery and reflight system.

“It was clear to us from the start that Orbex had the potential to disrupt and fundamentally improve the satellite launch market in Europe and beyond,” said Yann Fiebig, Senior Investment Manager at the High-Tech Gründerfonds. “The company has made rapid progress, taking their innovations from concept to reality in short order. Their very strong management team deserves full credit for its ability to execute and we look forward to being part of their positive disruption over the coming months and years.”

Orbex has already secured commercial engagements with major aerospace organisations. The European Space Agency has contracted Orbex to study the development of a European micro launcher solution. Also, an engagement with a leading European aerospace company will be announced on Tuesday 17th July.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former Director General of the European Space Agency has joined Orbex as Chairman of the Advisory Board. He is joined by other notable figures from the space industry, including Jan Skolmli, Orbex’s recently-appointed Chief Commercial Officer, who was formerly Head of Launch at SSTL, the world’s leading small satellite manufacturer. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA and several other commercial spaceflight organisations. Equipment developed by Orbex team members has flown on more than 50 deep space missions, and collectively they have developed more than 50 rocket engines and a wide range of orbital and suborbital launch vehicles.

“Orbex is one of the very few private spaceflight companies whose staff have credible, practical experience in the development of micro-launch vehicles and rocket engines,” commented Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO. “With our collective experience, we have developed a low mass, low carbon, high performance 21st century orbital launch vehicle, designed specifically to support the needs of the rapidly growing smallsat industry. There is a significant launch backlog for small satellites globally and Orbex is primed to give industry and science a cost-effective, reliable and responsive route into space, directly from Europe.”

Further technical and commercial announcements will follow during the Farnborough Airshow 2018.

Offline Hick2

  • Member
  • Posts: 15
  • Isle of Man
  • Liked: 10
  • Likes Given: 822
Re: Orbex
« Reply #22 on: 07/16/2018 02:44 pm »
The thing I'm most curious about in regards to "Prime" is the use of propane as propellant, while I know that amateur rocketry sees propane (gaseous) used often enough, I can't say I've heard of it being used in an orbital system before.

Are there advantages that propane would have over other propellants or is the "low carbon" descriptor the only reason they would have chosen to use it?

Would anyone have the knowledge to say what kind of picture it paints to have propane as a propellant in this vehicle and if we could begin to guess what the performance of the engines could be?

Offline GreenShrike

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 320
  • Likes Given: 679
Re: Orbex
« Reply #23 on: 07/16/2018 05:30 pm »
Orbex also won a "Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Grant for Space Launch Vehicle Tanks" ( http://orbex.space/news/orbex-wins-horizon-2020-sme-instrument-grant-for-space-launch-vehicle-tanks ).

From the report summary ( https://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/205191_en.html ) attached to what appears to be their application for the award ( https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/207963_en.html ):

Quote
Orbex is constructing a two-stage-to-orbit vertical micro-launch vehicle named Prime. Prime will use a new kind of coaxial tank solution to reduce vehicle mass by as much as 30% over traditional designs.


I read "coaxial" as a sort of tank-in-tank design with, say, a 1x-metre propane tank enclosed by a 1.5x metre LOX tank. I think that would explain why they need a fuel that won't freeze at LOX temps.

If only the outer LOX tank needed to bear structural loads and the inner propane tank just needed nothing more than to physically separate that fuel from the LOX with no thought to insulation, might that account for the 30% mass savings?

If the inner tank was even inflatable like a bladder or balloon within the LOX, might a single pressurization system suffice for both propellants?

I'm probably way out in left field, but it would certainly be "different". ;-)
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 11:18 pm by GreenShrike »
TriOptimum Corporation            Science
                                      Military /_\ Consumer

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5266
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 4992
  • Likes Given: 6458
Re: Orbex
« Reply #24 on: 07/16/2018 05:47 pm »
Quote
It also features a novel reusability concept, with an innovative new low mass recovery and reflight system.

I'm most interested in hearing about this.

The fact that they bury this in a single sentence deep in the press release makes me think they're going with an expendable system first, then a longer-term plan to eventually do some reuse, though it's unclear exactly which parts of the launcher they aim to refly.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 05:48 pm by ChrisWilson68 »

Offline GreenShrike

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 320
  • Likes Given: 679
Re: Orbex
« Reply #25 on: 07/16/2018 05:49 pm »
Are there advantages that propane would have over other propellants or is the "low carbon" descriptor the only reason they would have chosen to use it?

Would anyone have the knowledge to say what kind of picture it paints to have propane as a propellant in this vehicle and if we could begin to guess what the performance of the engines could be?

Well, straight from the Dunn fuel table ( https://yarchive.net/space/rocket/fuels/fuel_table.html ) :

Quote from: Bruce Dunn
Propane is unusual in that it will not freeze solid if put in tanks in thermal
contact with LOX tanks; it has been proposed therefore to use sub-cooled
propane.

Sub-cooled propane (at LOX temperatures or slightly above to account for
imperfect chilling of propane by adjacent LOX tanks) is a winner, with a bulk
density nearly the same as that of RP-1, and a superior Isp.


                     Tank               Fuel   Bulk         Vac.
                     Temp Formula   MR  Dens.  Dens.   Tc   Isp
                     K              O/F kg/m^3 kg/m^3  K    100:1

NON-HYDROCARBONS
hydrogen, NBP          20 H2        6.0    70    358   3610  455.9

ALKANES
methane, NBP          112 CH4       3.0   423    801   3589  368.3
propane, 100K         100 C3H8      2.7   782   1014   3734  361.9
RP-1, RT              298 C12H24    2.5   820   1026   3803  354.6



So, as previously said, better ISP than kerolox with about the same density. Methalox has better ISP but worse density, so the tanks need to be bigger WRT RP-1, and it's a bit of a wash. Propalox (?) is more of a straight win.


I don't really get "low carbon", unless it refers to RP-1's C12H24 formulation with two hydrogen per carbon, versus propane's C3H8 which has more hydrogen at ~2.67 per carbon, so burning propane gets you more water and less carbon dioxide.

Methane, though, is even better at 4 per carbon (which is why it has higher ISP than either), so they could toot the 'low carbon' horn even harder using methane, so I think it's more advertising than something they really care about.
TriOptimum Corporation            Science
                                      Military /_\ Consumer

Offline Davidthefat

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
  • Rockets are life.
  • Greater Los Angeles Area, California
  • Liked: 288
  • Likes Given: 71
Re: Orbex
« Reply #26 on: 07/16/2018 06:27 pm »
If it is indeed propane, I think the reason for not disclosing the actual propellant is to improve image to the public. Perhaps they feel that stating such a common household product as their propellant won't help bolster their image as a sophisticated rocket company, regardless of their engineering insight behind it. It's not uncommon for companies to do that though.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #27 on: 07/16/2018 09:03 pm »
More details on their site.

http://orbex.space/news/orbex-secures-30-million-funding-for-uk-space-launch-vehicles

Quote
Minimising the environmental impact of launches was a key consideration in the rocket’s design. Prime is a low-mass and low-carbon launcher, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to old-fashioned hydrocarbon fuels. The rocket uses a novel zero-shock staging system called Magic, which leaves zero orbital debris. It also features a novel reusability concept, with an innovative new low mass recovery and reflight system.
Emphasis mine.

Most people are aware that Methane can be made through anaerobic digestion but AFAIK Propane is the only other short chain hydrocarbon that can be made with bacteria. I'm guessing it's good compatability  with LOX (with some sub cooling) made it the fuel of choice.

"co-axial tanks" do sound like a tube-within-a-tube design. The nearest I'm aware of is the Saturn 1, with it's ring of tanks around the core tank. This sounds quite stiff, provided people are OK with the close proximity  of fuel and oxidizer.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2018 05:30 pm by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 38551
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 31738
  • Likes Given: 7727
Re: Orbex
« Reply #28 on: 07/17/2018 06:31 am »
Would anyone have the knowledge to say what kind of picture it paints to have propane as a propellant in this vehicle and if we could begin to guess what the performance of the engines could be?

Comparison of kerolox, methalox and propalox.

Propellants  MR   dp (kg/L)  ve (m/s) Id (Ns/L)
O2/CH4       3.6   0.8376     3656     3062
O2/C3H8      3.1   0.9304     3613     3362
O2/RP–1      2.8   1.0307     3554     3663
HTP/RP–1     7.3   1.3059     3223     4209


Propalox is basically between methalox and kerolox. Has better Isp than kerolox, but worse then methalox. Density is however better than methalox, but worse than kerolox. Impulse density is better than methalox, but worse than kerolox. I've also added my favourite combination, keroxide, which has the worst Isp, but the best impulse density, making it a great first stage propellant.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Asteroza

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2797
  • Liked: 1062
  • Likes Given: 32
Re: Orbex
« Reply #29 on: 07/17/2018 09:15 am »
Flexible cryogen bag tanks are apparently a thing, so tension anchoring the thing in the LOx tank is certainly doable.

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Orbex
« Reply #30 on: 07/17/2018 09:29 am »
Orbex and Elecnor Deimos Form Strategic Partnership for Satellite Launches

 

Elecnor Deimos Invests in Orbex; Orbex Selected as Preferred Supplier of Launch Services for Elecnor Deimos Satellites; Elecnor Deimos to Become Orbex’s Preferred Supplier of Critical Launch Systems Including GNC

 

Farnborough, UK, July 17, 2018 – Following the announcement of Orbex’s £30 million funding round for the development of an orbital space launch system, Elecnor Deimos and Orbex have announced that the two companies have strengthened their relationship: Elecnor Deimos has acquired a stake in Orbex and both companies have signed a strategic agreement, building on previous collaborations between the two companies when successfully bidding together in UK and international tenders.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Orbex will become the preferred supplier of all launch services required to place Elecnor Deimos satellites into orbit.  Elecnor Deimos will likewise become the preferred supplier of various critical launch systems required to develop and operate the Orbex launcher system, including the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system.

 

Recently emerging from stealth mode, Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company, with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany.  The company is constructing a completely re-thought and re-designed orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. The Prime launcher has a novel architecture that eliminates the fundamental mass challenge of small launchers. Prime launchers are up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic litre than many heavy launchers.  Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium.

 

Elecnor Deimos will contribute with its expertise to the development of the Orbex launcher in areas including:

-       Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) including algorithms, software, test benches and validation and verification processes.

-       Mission Analysis, Mission Engineering and System Engineering, including flight dynamics, safety range and launcher performance.

-       Ground Segment Systems, including Command and Control Center, Ground Support Equipment, ranging systems and ground stations.

 

“Orbex's partnership with Elecnor Deimos is significant for us on a number of levels,” said Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO.  “It demonstrates that as well as technological maturity, we have achieved a milestone in business maturity, where we are already in a position to become the preferred launch partner for an organisation as significant as Elecnor Deimos.  It also helps us maintain our accelerated pace of development, as we are able to incorporate tried-and-tested critical launch systems from Elecnor Deimos ranging from navigation to ground and mission control systems.”

 

“The huge potential of Orbex quickly became clear to Elecnor Deimos, which is why we became both an investor in the company as well as a strategic partner,” commented Miguel Belló Mora, CEO, Elecnor Deimos.  “By using a number of our advanced navigation and mission support systems, Orbex is leaping ahead in its ability to safely and efficiently execute small satellite launches in the near future.  This in turn helps Elecnor Deimos as it gives us access to innovative and efficient launch vehicles, which will be launching from several sites within Europe.”

 

The smallsat launch market is projected to grow strongly to around $60 billion between 2018-2030, with a strong shift towards more international satellite operators. More than 30 commercial consortia are currrently building smallsats constellations, with almost 12,000 satellites expected to be launched by 2030. Each satellite has a life expectancy of 3-5 years, creating a strong ongoing demand for upgrade and replenishment.

 

"There is a quiet revolution taking place, thanks to small satellites,” said Bart Markus, Orbex’s Chairman.  “Smallsats are now able to perform a huge range of tasks at very low cost, making them a smart choice for satellite operators both commercially and logistically.  But there is currently a huge bottleneck in getting them delivered into orbit, which means that satellite operators’ revenues are being delayed.  With Orbex, international smallsat operators now have access to a new class of launch service which which was designed exclusively to serve their needs.  We intend to relieve the smallsat bottleneck so that satellite operators have a reliable, long-term solution for orbital access.”

 
Support NSF via L2 -- Help improve NSF -- Site Rules/Feedback/Updates
**Not a L2 member? Whitelist this forum in your adblocker to support the site and ensure full functionality.**

Offline GreenShrike

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 320
  • Likes Given: 679
Re: Orbex
« Reply #31 on: 07/17/2018 07:07 pm »
Comparison of kerolox, methalox and propalox.

Propellants  MR   dp (kg/L)  ve (m/s) Id (Ns/L)
O2/CH4       3.6   0.8376     3656     3062
O2/C3H8      3.1   0.9304     3613     3362
O2/RP–1      2.8   1.0307     3554     3663
HTP/RP–1     7.3   1.3059     3223     4209


Propalox is basically between methalox and kerolox. Has better Isp than kerolox, but worse then methalox. Density is however better than methalox, but worse than kerolox. Impulse density is better than methalox, but worse than kerolox. I've also added my favourite combination, keroxide, which has the worst Isp, but the best impulse density, making it a great first stage propellant.


Using a density for LOX of 1.14 kg/L, I make your density of propane as being ~0.593 kg/L, which is close to its density at propane's boiling point. However, I believe the point of Orbex choosing propane as a propellant in the first place has to do with it remaining liquid even at LOX temperatures.

Using Dunn's figure of .782 kg/L for propane at 100K (-173C), and your mixture ratio of 3.1 for LOX+propane, I make the density of the propellant as being ~1.02 kg/L. With your exhaust velocity, sub-cooled propane's impulse density is then a smidge higher than RP-1's.


Propellants    MR    dp (kg/L) ve (m/s) Id (Ns/L)
O2/CH4         3.6    0.8376    3656    3062
O2/C3H8 NBP    3.1    0.9304    3613    3362
O2/C3H8 100K   3.1    1.0261    3613    3707
O2/RP-1        2.8    1.0307    3554    3663
HTP/RP-1       7.3    1.3059    3223    4209


While a tank-in-tank coaxial design might not permit them to use a more widely used fuel, the RP1-like impulse density of sub-cooled propane means they are hardly suffering for their choice.

Interestingly, keroxide is likely also suitable for a coaxial design, with both HTP and RP-1 being room-temperature propellants. I wonder if they considered it at all?

Most people are aware that Methane can be made through anaerobic digestion but AFAIK Propane is the only other short chain hydrocarbon that can be made with bacteria. I'm guessing it's good compatability  with LOX (with some sub cooling) made it the fuel of choice.

Though they can't just build Sabatier reactors powered by solar cells and claim to be green like methane users can, if their 'bio-propane' is indeed microbially generated, then it's much the same thing, if rather more biologically exotic. And, no doubt, mucky. ;-)

I just wonder how much their propane costs compared to what's in my BBQ's tank? Good thing propellant costs are but a small fraction of total launch costs... :-)

Flexible cryogen bag tanks are apparently a thing, so tension anchoring the thing in the LOx tank is certainly doable.

Interesting -- thanks for the info. Maybe it wasn't such a crazy idea. :-)
TriOptimum Corporation            Science
                                      Military /_\ Consumer

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #32 on: 07/20/2018 06:10 pm »
Orbex and Elecnor Deimos Form Strategic Partnership for Satellite Launches

Elecnor Deimos Invests in Orbex; Orbex Selected as Preferred Supplier of Launch Services for Elecnor Deimos Satellites; Elecnor Deimos to Become Orbex’s Preferred Supplier of Critical Launch Systems Including GNC

Hmm. It's quite interesting that they managed to get this level of investment and commercial traction while keeping so far under the radar. That would indicate they have done more (to convince those investors / partners) than they are making public - several images on Twitter hint at AM engines, large carbon tanks.

Offline Davidthefat

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
  • Rockets are life.
  • Greater Los Angeles Area, California
  • Liked: 288
  • Likes Given: 71
Re: Orbex
« Reply #33 on: 07/20/2018 06:27 pm »
Well the Twitter page disclosed it's LPG (Propane/Butane)

Interestingly, they are stating on their website that the ignition system has no moving parts or "electrics". Wonder how they would actuate valves without both of those.

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Orbex
« Reply #34 on: 07/20/2018 10:08 pm »
Well the Twitter page disclosed it's LPG (Propane/Butane)

Interestingly, they are stating on their website that the ignition system has no moving parts or "electrics". Wonder how they would actuate valves without both of those.
It all depends on where you draw the dotted line that divides "igniter" from "igniter feed system". My personal guess is it is some form of acoustic resonance igniter, but I have nothing to back that up.
I tried it at home

Offline Dao Angkan

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 44
Re: Orbex
« Reply #35 on: 07/20/2018 11:46 pm »
Orbex stakes claim to European smallsat launch market

Quote
...

In a July 16 interview during the Farnborough International Airshow, Orbex Chief Executive Chris Larmour declined to go into the terms of the investments, including how much funding came from the various sources. He said that the funding, which he described as roughly equivalent to a Series A round, covered more than half of the estimated $70–75 million cost to develop the company’s Prime small launch vehicle. “It gets us a good way along the track to first launch,” he said.

That funding, he said, allows Orbex to stand out from the dozens of small launch vehicle efforts underway worldwide. “There are about 80 projects out there talking about building a small launcher,” he said. “But when you filter them on who has assets to do something, who has experience and understanding of the problem, who’s making progress, it’s a much smaller number: a handful of companies. I think Orbex, with this announcement, has joined that family.”

...

One key aspect of propane is that it remains liquid at cryogenic temperatures. That enabled a “coaxial tank” design for Prime where a central tube of propane is surrounded by an outer tank of liquid oxygen, creating structural mass savings in the rocket. The specific impulse — a measure of efficiency — of propane is also slightly higher than RP-1, he added. “That’s a good combination for this class of launcher.”

Orbex has been testing engines that use that propellant combination while working on the overall design of the rocket and other subsystems, like avionics. The company has about 15 employees now, but Larmour said he expects that headcount to double in three to four months and reach 40 or more by early 2019. The company plans to construct a factory for Prime in Scotland that will eventually employ 150.

...

Other than the Elecnor Deimos announcement, Orbex has not announced any customers for Prime, whose first launch from Scotland is expected in the second half of 2021. Larmour said he thinks the business case for Prime will focus more on providing convenience to European customers rather than on low price.

“One of the core differentiators for our company is that we’re based geographically in Europe,” he said. That should be attractive, he believed, to European satellite developers, who would not have to deal with logistical and regulatory hassles with launching their satellites outside Europe. “There’s willingness to look at solutions that are a little bit easier to access in time and space, and the price point may not be as sensitive an issue.” Larmour declined to give an estimated launch price for the vehicle.

He added in a July 18 presentation at a U.K. Space Agency launch workshop held at the air show that he was not interested in competing head-to-head with U.S.-based launch vehicles. “Perhaps unusually, we’re focused on a very international market,” he said. “There are a lot of competitors in the United States of America. We’re happy for them to compete with each other, and we’ll focus on Europe.”

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #36 on: 07/21/2018 07:39 am »
https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1019468219319574528

Great to welcome the Elecnor Deimos investment in Orbex, with an additional preferred supplier agreement for up to 20 launches of the Orbex vehicle.

What??? 20 launches.... holy cow, talk about burying the lead...

Offline SciNews

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 812
  • Romania
  • Liked: 737
  • Likes Given: 6
Re: Orbex
« Reply #37 on: 10/15/2018 07:11 pm »
Chris Larmour (Orbex CEO) interviewed in BBC The Sky at Night - Space Britannia https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bntqjf
Main points:
- building a small space launch vehicle to take small satellites into lower Earth orbits;
- the rocket is 17 metres tall and about 1.3 metres in diameter;
- uses propane (biopropane) as the core fuel, which helps save about 30% of the mass of the vehicle;
- factory in Copenhagen building engines, tanks and avionics; planning a new factory in Scotland;
- first launch around 2021, late 2021.

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #38 on: 10/22/2018 02:29 pm »
Orbex are showing some carbon fiber on Twitter:-

https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1052996275568893955
« Last Edit: 10/22/2018 02:32 pm by ringsider »

Offline vhbmsp

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Liked: 6
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #39 on: 12/12/2018 09:08 pm »
Deimos and Orbex presented AZμL, a service to launch from the Azores islands using the Orbex prime vehicle

Full presentation:

http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/space_transportation/AZUL-ESA_Workshop-Export.pdf







Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Liked: 426
  • Likes Given: 33
Re: Orbex
« Reply #41 on: 01/28/2019 01:46 pm »
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/1663847/rocket-manufacturing-soon-to-take-off-in-moray/?utm_source=twitter
Quote
Private spaceflight company Orbex has bought a vacant building on Forres Enterprise Park and started a recruitment drive for highly specialised engineers.
[...]
The Forres facility, which will be Orbex’s headquarters, is due to be officially opened next month at an event attended by Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency.
Presumably this is the 7th February event they've be teasing on Twitter

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #42 on: 01/29/2019 06:58 am »
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/1663847/rocket-manufacturing-soon-to-take-off-in-moray/?utm_source=twitter
Quote
Private spaceflight company Orbex has bought a vacant building on Forres Enterprise Park and started a recruitment drive for highly specialised engineers.
[...]
The Forres facility, which will be Orbex’s headquarters, is due to be officially opened next month at an event attended by Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency.
Presumably this is the 7th February event they've be teasing on Twitter
It's interesting how these guys just stay mostly silent but apparently still make progress - in this story purchasing a factory etc. - but even in this news piece  the management declined to comment. It's the complete opposite of most others out there. They really keep fairly silent on tech developments, which is either suspicious or clever - not yet sure which.

Also they are quite good at trolling - on Twitter they recently posted pictures of a sofa and new carpets, where others post engines or whatever. It's a different approach for sure.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2019 06:59 am by ringsider »

Online gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10129
  • US
  • Liked: 13697
  • Likes Given: 5870
Re: Orbex
« Reply #43 on: 01/29/2019 12:46 pm »
It's interesting how these guys just stay mostly silent but apparently still make progress - in this story purchasing a factory etc. - but even in this news piece  the management declined to comment. It's the complete opposite of most others out there. They really keep fairly silent on tech developments, which is either suspicious or clever - not yet sure which.

There are a bunch of companies acting like this (in both launcher and satellite development), we just tend to focus on the ones that are being vocal.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2019 12:46 pm by gongora »

Offline Stevenzop

Re: Orbex
« Reply #44 on: 01/29/2019 02:58 pm »
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/1663847/rocket-manufacturing-soon-to-take-off-in-moray/?utm_source=twitter
Quote
Private spaceflight company Orbex has bought a vacant building on Forres Enterprise Park and started a recruitment drive for highly specialised engineers.
[...]
The Forres facility, which will be Orbex’s headquarters, is due to be officially opened next month at an event attended by Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency.
Presumably this is the 7th February event they've be teasing on Twitter

Interesting... Forres is just up the road from me. Never thought I'd see the day a rocket factory would pop up in north east Scotland! I wonder if they need anyone to make cups of tea and sweep the floor...

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #45 on: 01/29/2019 04:55 pm »
It's interesting how these guys just stay mostly silent but apparently still make progress - in this story purchasing a factory etc. - but even in this news piece  the management declined to comment. It's the complete opposite of most others out there. They really keep fairly silent on tech developments, which is either suspicious or clever - not yet sure which.

There are a bunch of companies acting like this (in both launcher and satellite development), we just tend to focus on the ones that are being vocal.
Astra, maybe ABL.... Who else?
« Last Edit: 01/29/2019 04:56 pm by ringsider »

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Orbex
« Reply #46 on: 02/07/2019 05:24 pm »
Awesome news:

ARTICLE: Orbex reveals Prime’s second stage as it prepares for UK domestic launches -

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019/02/orbex-primes-second-stage-uk-launches/

https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1093575933980798976
Support NSF via L2 -- Help improve NSF -- Site Rules/Feedback/Updates
**Not a L2 member? Whitelist this forum in your adblocker to support the site and ensure full functionality.**

Offline Nomic

  • Member
  • Posts: 47
  • Liked: 23
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #47 on: 02/07/2019 07:42 pm »
As per presentation from December, 2nd stage is pressure fed.

Nozzle extension to 3d printed chamber looks welded.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Astro_Jonny/status/1093559574697779200

Offline HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1704
  • Liked: 2177
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Orbex
« Reply #48 on: 02/10/2019 09:41 pm »
As per presentation from December, 2nd stage is pressure fed.

Nozzle extension to 3d printed chamber looks welded.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Astro_Jonny/status/1093559574697779200

One of the most impressive things about this is that the TVC actuators are holding up the engine on one side and the rest of the stage on the other. These guys have been busy doing real work.

Those are (seemingly commercial) electric ball-screw actuators (small second stages have low-rate TVC requirements, generally) and I doubt that stage masses even 1000 lbs.  So not that hard to do.

Offline Tywin

Re: Orbex
« Reply #49 on: 02/13/2019 03:52 am »
Orbex, sign a contract with SSTL for launch a demonstrators, satellite in 2021:


Quote
Orbex has also confirmed that it will launch an upcoming satellite in SSTL’s line of demonstrators by 2023. “We are extremely excited about the development of a sovereign UK satellite launch capability,” commented Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL. “This is something SSTL has been advocating for many years, and it will benefit the entire UK space industry. We have been impressed with the rapid progress Orbex has made in a short time, and we look forward to working with them towards the first launch in 2021 and beyond.”

https://spacewatch.global/2019/02/british-new-space-orbex-space-to-launch-sstl-payload-from-scotland-in-2021/
The knowledge is power...Everything is connected...
The Turtle continues at a steady pace ...

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Orbex
« Reply #50 on: 02/13/2019 04:32 am »
Their engine has an interesting igniter setup. Looking at this image, there are some solenoid valves that tap off of the LOX and fuel main valves and feed into what looks like a torch igniter (or two, based on the tees in the lines). There is an apparent lack of a spark plug and they claim no "electrics" in the igniter, so I'm still guessing it is an acoustic igniter. There are also some interesting bumps on the side of the igniter body; they must have some very interesting internals in that part.
I tried it at home

Offline Cheapchips

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1029
  • UK
  • Liked: 854
  • Likes Given: 1922
Re: Orbex
« Reply #51 on: 02/15/2019 03:51 pm »
I read "coaxial" as a sort of tank-in-tank design with, say, a 1x-metre propane tank enclosed by a 1.5x metre LOX tank. I think that would explain why they need a fuel that won't freeze at LOX temps.

If only the outer LOX tank needed to bear structural loads and the inner propane tank just needed nothing more than to physically separate that fuel from the LOX with no thought to insulation, might that account for the 30% mass savings?

If the inner tank was even inflatable like a bladder or balloon within the LOX, might a single pressurization system suffice for both propellants?

I'm probably way out in left field, but it would certainly be "different". ;-)

The interplanetary podcast had an interview with Orbex CEO Chris Larmour this week.  Interesting stuff in there.

https://www.interplanetary.org.uk/single-post/2019/02/15/120-Orbex-Special

He talked a bit about the coaxial tank. The LOX is acting as a cooling jacket for the propane tank.  They don't need a separate cooling system. The propane is densified, so end up 2% more
'powerful' in Lamours words. 

As well as structural weight, the coaxial tank is saving on plumbing weight, since it sits on the base of the LOX tank.

The turbopump runs at a relatively low temperature, so they can use automotive grade metal in their 3d printing.

They are also looking at some sort of engine recovery.
They won't use parachutes so not sure what they're planning.


Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #52 on: 02/17/2019 01:19 pm »
This is how it began:

- Copenhagen Suborbitals by Danish Peter Madsen and Kristian von Bengtson

- Project 'Moonspike' by Chris Larmour and Kristian von Bengtson. They planned a crowdfunded two-stage alcohol-fueled rocket that should crash a capsule into the Moon. (Crowdfunding failed.)

Chris Larmour now is Orbex CEO, von Bengtson is CTO. Prime engines still developed and tested in Denmark.

=> New German WP article: Prime (Rakete)


Btw, there is some confusion where the engines are manufactured. Some sources say Denmark, others Germany or both countries. It's true that the 3D Printer - an SLM-800 - is made in Germany, but I can hardly beleive that SLM also makes the engine parts. Sounds like a confusion of printer and engine manufacturers. Does someone know it for sure?
« Last Edit: 02/17/2019 06:48 pm by PM3 »
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #53 on: 02/20/2019 03:55 pm »
This is how it began:

- Copenhagen Suborbitals by Danish Peter Madsen and Kristian von Bengtson

- Project 'Moonspike' by Chris Larmour and Kristian von Bengtson. They planned a crowdfunded two-stage alcohol-fueled rocket that should crash a capsule into the Moon. (Crowdfunding failed.)

Chris Larmour now is Orbex CEO, von Bengtson is CTO. Prime engines still developed and tested in Denmark.

=> New German WP article: Prime (Rakete)


Btw, there is some confusion where the engines are manufactured. Some sources say Denmark, others Germany or both countries. It's true that the 3D Printer - an SLM-800 - is made in Germany, but I can hardly beleive that SLM also makes the engine parts. Sounds like a confusion of printer and engine manufacturers. Does someone know it for sure?
Interesting. IIRC Furfuryl Alcohol was mentioned in John Clarkes "Ignition" as a (potential) propellant that was (at the time) a by product of the mfg of "Quaker Oats." However I think there some concerns that it was a suspected carcinogen.

OTOH being pretty cheap, reasonably high performance, hypergolic and radically less toxic than the usual NTO/hydrazine combo (and operated entirely inside sealed systems) I'd be reasonably comfortable with that risk.  Of those being hypergolic with nitric acid seems to have been the problem that caused the US to switch to NTO in the 50's.

I think there's an interesting little research project in understanding exactly why it's hypergolic with WFNA and something like RP-1 isn't (given access to 6 decades better instruments and chemical modelling tools) but sadly no one seems to care enough,  other than for the sheer intellectual curiosity of the subject.  :(

Of course not being  LOX opens up the field for CFRP tanks but I've yet to see a turbopump design in all this.
TBH I've always thought if you wanted to go cheap (but still quite impressive performance) the flow metrics concept (small very high pressure tank drives pump of valved chambers rather than turbine) to be the way to go. True, it needs 3 tanks, but the high pressure one is going to be much smaller than making the other two operate at main chamber pressure (in fact more like 2x main chamber pressure).
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 04:03 pm by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #54 on: 02/22/2019 12:02 pm »
Orbex' answer to Launcher's "largest 3D-printed rocket engine part"  ;D

https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1098866851352854528

Quote
Orbex unveils the world's largest rocket factory sofa.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2019 12:08 pm by PM3 »
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13463
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 11864
  • Likes Given: 11081
Re: Orbex
« Reply #55 on: 02/22/2019 01:18 pm »
Troll class: master.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #56 on: 02/22/2019 03:13 pm »
Now for Relativity Space to unveil the world's largest 3D printed rocket factory sofa, to close the circle.

Offline Tywin

Re: Orbex
« Reply #57 on: 07/19/2019 01:51 am »
Very interesting interview to the CEO of Orbex:

Quote
“We thought about how to solve this problem by re-architecting the vehicle and decided to use propane as the fuel. Propane has some unique properties that allow us to build a vehicle that is about 30 percent lower mass than anyone else in this category, which makes Orbex less costly while offering higher performance,” said Larmour. “We’re also able to use bio-propane, which is chemically equivalent, but is also a clean, renewable fuel that helps makes our Prime launchers up to 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher category, packing more power per cubic liter than many heavy launchers. It also cuts carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to fossil hydrocarbon fuels.”

Quote
Another issue that Orbex has been looking at is the growing issue of space debris/junk. “We certainly didn’t want our launcher to be dropping litter in space. So, we deliberately set out to architect the vehicle so it would not leave any debris on orbit. We deliberately designed features into the Stage 2 to de-orbit very rapidly, so it burns up on re-entry. We created a new zero-shock staging system, which leaves zero orbital debris. It also features a novel reusability concept, with a new low mass recovery and re-flight system, which is now patent-pending,” Larmour said.

https://www.satellitetoday.com/innovation/2019/07/18/orbex-ceo-ready-for-the-challenge-ahead/
« Last Edit: 07/19/2019 01:52 am by Tywin »
The knowledge is power...Everything is connected...
The Turtle continues at a steady pace ...

Offline Olaf

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3124
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1481
  • Likes Given: 455
Re: Orbex
« Reply #58 on: 08/07/2019 03:19 pm »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #59 on: 10/26/2019 01:42 pm »
https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1188030371776159744

Quote
A visual tour of the Launch Operations Control Centre (LOCC) at the proposed spaceport in Sutherland. Orbex Prime vehicles will be commanded from the right hand side of this centre & operated post-launch from... more on that topic in a couple of weeks ;o)

Offline Hick2

  • Member
  • Posts: 15
  • Isle of Man
  • Liked: 10
  • Likes Given: 822
Re: Orbex
« Reply #60 on: 11/19/2019 10:23 am »
Orbex have posted an article with some new information:
https://orbex.space/orbex-behind-the-scenes

Some new information here about their manufactory process and how progress is going about the Sutherland launch site.

Also I might be reading this wrong but there is some implication that their engine has a Thrust-to-Weight ratio of around 450  :o
« Last Edit: 11/19/2019 10:28 am by Hick2 »

Offline gmbnz

  • Member
  • Posts: 53
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 41
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Orbex
« Reply #61 on: 11/19/2019 09:11 pm »
Great article, I didn't realise they did so much manufacturing of the carbon fibre parts in house!

Also I might be reading this wrong but there is some implication that their engine has a Thrust-to-Weight ratio of around 450  :o

Really it depends on what the definition of engine mass includes. I'd believe the TWR of 450 for just the combustion chamber, maybe even including the instrumentation & sensors. But if you consider TVCs part of it, or control avionics, or turbopumps (which surely ought to be) then it would drop to something more sane.

For example the similar sized Rutherford engine weighs 35kg (according to wiki).... and that's a pretty minimal engine as well. I just can't see Orbex making an engine 10x lighter than that.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #62 on: 11/20/2019 09:10 pm »
Really it depends on what the definition of engine mass includes. I'd believe the TWR of 450 for just the combustion chamber, maybe even including the instrumentation & sensors. But if you consider TVCs part of it, or control avionics, or turbopumps (which surely ought to be) then it would drop to something more sane.
Well....

The MIT Microrocket engine project was targeting chamber pressures of around 1200psi using semiconductor lithography techniques and (ideally) T/W ratios of >1000:1

However this included scaling down turbo pumps which raised the rpm's to around 250 000.

My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline gmbnz

  • Member
  • Posts: 53
  • New Zealand
  • Liked: 41
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Orbex
« Reply #63 on: 11/20/2019 10:06 pm »
My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

From this recruitment notice of theirs from last year (only the google cache available sorry) it looks like we can rule out option (a)!
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:k4NSoCLQvyMJ:https://orbex.space/assets/uploads/documents/Orbex-TPA2018-Job-Specification.pdf

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 38551
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 31738
  • Likes Given: 7727
Re: Orbex
« Reply #64 on: 11/21/2019 03:52 am »
Here's what the page said:

"Weighing just 7.5 kilos, this engine can lift 3.5 tonnes."

That's a thrust to weight ratio of 467. Not sure where the typo could be.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #65 on: 11/21/2019 07:28 am »
Here's what the page said:

"Weighing just 7.5 kilos, this engine can lift 3.5 tonnes."

That's a thrust to weight ratio of 467. Not sure where the typo could be.
IIRC the T/W ratio for the Gamma engines on Black Arrow were around 45:1

Given that Elon Musk has stated that Raptor is targeting 200:1  the claim they have developed an engine more than double that level is very bold indeed.

OTOH later in the piece they say that the first stage is a 6 engine cluster and the whole LV weighs 15tonnes during transport.

3.5 tonnes split 6 ways would be 78:1, if we assume the 3.5t is referring to the US and payload mass.

Can we agree that the claim is ambiguous and any T/W ratio is a deduced number dependent on what people are assuming those numbers refer to?


MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #66 on: 11/21/2019 07:28 am »
My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

From this recruitment notice of theirs from last year (only the google cache available sorry) it looks like we can rule out option (a)!
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:k4NSoCLQvyMJ:https://orbex.space/assets/uploads/documents/Orbex-TPA2018-Job-Specification.pdf
Pressure feds have some attractions for upper stages.  OTOH 3.5tonnes is well over the line where turbo machinery is a good choice (rather than reciprocating pumps)

MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Online gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10129
  • US
  • Liked: 13697
  • Likes Given: 5870
Re: Orbex
« Reply #67 on: 01/14/2020 02:37 pm »
[Space News] TriSept buys Orbex Prime rocket for rideshare flight

Quote
Launch integrator TriSept Corp. announced plans Jan. 14 to purchase an Orbex Prime launch vehicle for a dedicated rideshare mission to fly from Scotland’s Sutherland Spaceport in 2022.

Offline TartanPump

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
  • Liked: 6
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #68 on: 03/17/2020 03:12 pm »
My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

From this recruitment notice of theirs from last year (only the google cache available sorry) it looks like we can rule out option (a)!
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:k4NSoCLQvyMJ:https://orbex.space/assets/uploads/documents/Orbex-TPA2018-Job-Specification.pdf
Pressure feds have some attractions for upper stages.  OTOH 3.5tonnes is well over the line where turbo machinery is a good choice (rather than reciprocating pumps)

It is and you're right. Orbex has been recruiting Turbomachinery engineers for years, and I have it on good authority that they've recently "finished" their assembly- at least to the point where they're ready to begin testing.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #69 on: 03/17/2020 06:39 pm »
My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

From this recruitment notice of theirs from last year (only the google cache available sorry) it looks like we can rule out option (a)!
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:k4NSoCLQvyMJ:https://orbex.space/assets/uploads/documents/Orbex-TPA2018-Job-Specification.pdf
Pressure feds have some attractions for upper stages.  OTOH 3.5tonnes is well over the line where turbo machinery is a good choice (rather than reciprocating pumps)

It is and you're right. Orbex has been recruiting Turbomachinery engineers for years, and I have it on good authority that they've recently "finished" their assembly- at least to the point where they're ready to begin testing.
Firstly welcome to the site.

I think what's impressed various posters is the claim on the Orbex website of a 7.5Kg engine that can lift a 3.5tonne stage.  which is phenomenal .  Even with the the ability to run a very large nozzle on an upper stage due to near vacuum exhaust conditions, that's still very big, in fact it's a T/W ratio of 466:1

Can you shed any light on this apparent paradox?
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline TartanPump

  • Member
  • Posts: 3
  • Liked: 6
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #70 on: 03/17/2020 11:00 pm »
My instinct is a) The engine is pressure fed, which raises the tank mass substantially (unless it's a flometrix style reciprocating pump driven by a smallish high pressure third tank) b) It's a typo.

Occams razor says it's b) pending confirmation that the company is serious about that T/W ratio.

From this recruitment notice of theirs from last year (only the google cache available sorry) it looks like we can rule out option (a)!
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:k4NSoCLQvyMJ:https://orbex.space/assets/uploads/documents/Orbex-TPA2018-Job-Specification.pdf
Pressure feds have some attractions for upper stages.  OTOH 3.5tonnes is well over the line where turbo machinery is a good choice (rather than reciprocating pumps)

It is and you're right. Orbex has been recruiting Turbomachinery engineers for years, and I have it on good authority that they've recently "finished" their assembly- at least to the point where they're ready to begin testing.
Firstly welcome to the site.

I think what's impressed various posters is the claim on the Orbex website of a 7.5Kg engine that can lift a 3.5tonne stage.  which is phenomenal .  Even with the the ability to run a very large nozzle on an upper stage due to near vacuum exhaust conditions, that's still very big, in fact it's a T/W ratio of 466:1

Can you shed any light on this apparent paradox?

Hey thanks! I spend so much time lurking here figured it was time to make an account.

Not sure about that claim. But the image they use next to the 7.5 kg figure is their 2nd stage engine...so maybe a 7.5 kg engine can propel 3.5 tonnes...in microgravity? That, or the first stage engine's actually 75 kg!


Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10346
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 2425
  • Likes Given: 13592
Re: Orbex
« Reply #71 on: 03/18/2020 05:39 am »
Hey thanks! I spend so much time lurking here figured it was time to make an account.

Not sure about that claim. But the image they use next to the 7.5 kg figure is their 2nd stage engine...so maybe a 7.5 kg engine can propel 3.5 tonnes...in microgravity? That, or the first stage engine's actually 75 kg!
That makes more sense but is considerably less impressive. A T/W ratio of about 46:1 is not very impressive for an expendable launch vehicle.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2020 10:19 am by john smith 19 »
MCT ITS BFR SS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFSC engined CFRP SS structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of Earth & Mars atmospheric flight.First flight to Mars by end of 2022 TBC. T&C apply. Trust nothing. Run your own #s "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" R. Simberg."Competitve" means cheaper ¬cheap SCramjet proposed 1956. First +ve thrust 2004. US R&D spend to date > $10Bn. #deployed designs. Zero.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #72 on: 08/04/2020 07:20 am »
https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1290545955553652737

Quote
While our home spaceport at Sutherland moves rapidly ahead, we're busy building the launch vehicle. This is a full-scale main stage mandrel for Europe's 1st linerless carbon fibre LOX tanks, a technology we spent 4 years developing in-house with support from @H2020SME @spacegovuk

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #73 on: 08/23/2020 08:51 pm »

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Orbex
« Reply #74 on: 12/10/2020 02:11 pm »
Presser:


Orbex Secures $24 Million Funding Round for UK Space Launch

 

·        New funding secures roadmap to first launch from Sutherland spaceport in Scotland

·        Orbex is 1st UK space-sector company to win prestigious Horizon 2020 funding

 

Forres, UK, 10th December 2020 – Orbex, the innovative European space launch company, has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF, the UK's most active investment company, and Octopus Ventures, one of the largest VCs in Europe.

 

BGF and Octopus Ventures have joined existing investors High-Tech Gründerfonds, Heartcore Capital and Elecnor S.A. - parent company of the multi-national space firm Deimos Space - in a new funding round for the orbital launch services company. The new investments secure the roadmap to the first launch from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland.

 

“Orbex is an impressive UK company which is developing a strongly differentiated and innovative launch solution for the rapidly-growing small satellite market. In Europe, they are a recognized leader with an experienced team, substantial institutional support, a growing customer list and patented technology. The private space sector remains a key future industry for both Scottish and UK governments and we’re very excited to be backing one of the most compelling examples of this evolving sector,” said Keith Barclay, Investor at BGF. 

 

Conceived and developed as an environmentally sustainable launch system, the Orbex Prime rocket uniquely uses bio-propane, a renewable biofuel that cuts CO2 emissions by 90% compared to traditional kerosene-based rocket fuels. Designed to be recoverable and re-usable, Orbex Prime is intended to leave no debris in the ocean or in orbit around the Earth. The company is constructing the rocket vehicle at factories in Forres, near Inverness in Scotland, and Copenhagen in Denmark.

 

“Orbex is creating a highly innovative launch solution that is rapidly gaining market traction with very serious customers. We’re delighted to be part of the future of the company and are very excited about what they’re looking to achieve, including the first ever vertical launches from UK soil,” said Simon King, Partner at Octopus Ventures.

 

Orbex has already confirmed six commercial satellite launch contracts, with the first launches expected in 2022. The company’s preferred launch site will be the Sutherland spaceport on the northernmost coast of Scotland, which was granted planning permission in mid-August 2020.

 

“This financing round is an important step forward for Orbex. It helps us maintain our rapid pace and allows us to move forward with certainty towards our first launch from the Sutherland spaceport. With BGF and Octopus Ventures we have found significant strategic partners who recognise our vision, and who have the capability to support our development through both the early flights and into subsequent growth and production,“ said Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO.

 

“We want the UK to be Europe’s leading destination for launching small satellites – driving economic growth in communities up and down the country,” said UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway. “Companies like Orbex are playing a vital role in the UK’s thriving commercial spaceflight market and today’s funding reflects the confidence that investors have in Orbex, helping to bring small satellite launch from Sutherland one step closer.”

 

The announcement by Orbex will bring significant new investment in high technology employment opportunities and large-scale production facilities in the Highlands region of Scotland, close to the launch site at the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland. The A’Mhoine site was granted planning permission in August 2020 and is expected to begin construction in 2021.

 

“This is great for Forres, Moray and the Highlands and marks further strong progress for Orbex,” said Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee. “Our aim is for Scotland to secure a £4 billion slice of the global space market by 2030 - an ambitious but realistic target. The Scottish space sector has a unique selling point - using space as a force for good - designing lighter, more efficient rockets, developing clean burning and renewable fuel and using satellite data to combat climate change and promote scientific discovery. This investment will help Orbex take a significant step towards their goal of placing small satellites into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland, and help build an innovative new industry for Scotland’s economy.”

 

The funding round is completed by a €2.5 million grant from the European Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme – the first for a UK space-sector company – to support the development of patented coaxial tanking technology. Orbex previously won £5.5 million in grant funding from the UK Space Agency’s Launch UK programme in 2018.

 

-ENDS-

 

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.

 

About BGF

BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested more than £2.5bn in over 335 companies, making it the most active investor in the UK. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook on investments, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs. BGF invests in growing businesses in the UK and Ireland through its network of 14 offices. In 2018, Canada launched its equivalent – the Canadian Business Growth Fund – and in 2019, Australia did the same, both based on BGF’s funding model.

 

About Octopus Ventures

Octopus Ventures, part of the Octopus Group, is built to specialise in the four areas we believe will change the world for the better: health, money, deep tech and consumer. With £1.3 billion under management and investing over £100m a year, Octopus Ventures is one of the largest and most active venture investors in Europe. Typical investment is from £1 million for Seed to £10 million for Series B with the ability to fund the companies backed right through to IPO. Octopus Ventures has backed the founding teams of over 120 companies including Zoopla, Secret Escapes, graze.com, Depop and Cazoo.
Support NSF via L2 -- Help improve NSF -- Site Rules/Feedback/Updates
**Not a L2 member? Whitelist this forum in your adblocker to support the site and ensure full functionality.**

Offline Rik ISS-fan

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1511
  • the Netherlands
  • Liked: 604
  • Likes Given: 210
Re: Orbex
« Reply #75 on: 12/11/2020 12:30 pm »
Presser:
·        Orbex is 1st UK space-sector company to win prestigious Horizon 2020 funding

The funding round is completed by a €2.5 million grant from the European Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme – the first for a UK space-sector company – to support the development of patented coaxial tanking technology. Orbex previously won £5.5 million in grant funding from the UK Space Agency’s Launch UK programme in 2018.

AFAIK Orbex got funding for a Phase 1 and Phase 2 EU Horizon 2020 SME instrument (in 2017 and 2019). It was for the development of their tank structures.
They are the first British company and the last British company to get funding from the EU Horizon program.
AFAIK, because the UK is leaving the EU, they can't participate any longer.

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #76 on: 12/11/2020 12:38 pm »
AFAIK, because the UK is leaving the EU, they can't participate any longer.

No more for the tanks, but potentially for the engines, which are developed, made and tested in Denmark.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline alanr74

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • uk
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: Orbex
« Reply #77 on: 06/17/2021 11:32 pm »
Interview in the register

"We're working towards the end of 2022," he tells us. However, he also remarks: "There's always something either internally or externally, that impacts the ability to meet those dates, whether it's, you know, the spaceport is delayed, or the regulations aren't ready yet, or we've got a technical issue to be solved…"

https://www.theregister.com/2021/06/14/orbex_interview/
« Last Edit: 06/17/2021 11:33 pm by alanr74 »

Offline alanr74

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • uk
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: Orbex
« Reply #78 on: 08/20/2021 06:31 pm »
https://www.cityam.com/asos-billionaires-petition-to-stop-spaceport-plans-scrapped-by-judge/
Quote
The CEO of Scottish rocket company Orbex, Chris Larmour, praised the ruling, saying it was good news for both the UK’s space sector and the local economy.

“This is extremely positive news for a wide variety of communities and businesses and paves the way for the Pathfinder launch of small satellites from Sutherland Spaceport in Scotland.

“We’re especially pleased for the crofters of the Melness Crofters Estate, who will be able to protect and develop their community with modern jobs. Sutherland is still the only UK spaceport with planning permission and now, with this ruling, the countdown to space launch from the UK can begin.”

Offline alanr74

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • uk
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: Orbex
« Reply #79 on: 09/01/2021 08:09 am »
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/business/3430942/rocket-builder-takes-on-more-space-for-its-growing-forres-workforce/
Quote
Rocket builder takes on more space for its growing Forres workforce 
 
Rocket builder Orbex is expanding its operations in Moray, with a move into a building close to its headquarters.

The company’s chief executive, Chris Larmour, said it needed the extra space to accommodate its growing workforce and house new equipment.

The firm is also working on a detailed planning application for a new factory that could create hundreds of new jobs.

Orbex, which is aiming to start launching its Prime mini-satellite carrying rockets from the planned Space Hub Sutherland spaceport next year, opened its base on Forres Enterprise Park in 2019.

Offline alanr74

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • uk
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: Orbex
« Reply #80 on: 10/27/2021 05:30 pm »
https://biofuels-news.com/news/study-reveals-green-credentials-of-orbex-biofuel-rocket/
Quote
Study reveals green credentials of Orbex biofuel rocket

The carbon footprint of launching the new Orbex Prime space rocket will be up to 95% lower than comparable space launch programmes, a new study has revealed.

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #81 on: 12/10/2021 08:40 am »
Orbex builds a rehearsal pad in Kinloss, a few kilometers from their headquarter in Forres. It is called "Launch Platform" but not intended for launching. The platform will be identical to the pad that is to be built at Sutherland. Construction shall take just a few months.

https://www.theregister.com/AMP/2021/12/09/orbex_launch_platform/

http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=58943



50 years after Black Arrow: Orbex begins construction of new rocket launchpad in the UK

Press Release From: Orbex
Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2021

Orbex, Europe’s leading private small satellite launch services provider, has today announced it has started construction of its first state-of-the-art Launch Platform, the first orbital space launchpad to be built in the UK for more than half a century.

Orbex has commissioned Motive Offshore Group, a leading Scottish company specialising in the design and manufacture of marine and lifting equipment, to fabricate and install the Launch Platform at a dedicated test site near Kinloss, close to the Orbex headquarters in Forres, Scotland.

The Launch Platform, known as Orbex LP1, is expected to be fully operational by early 2022. An artist’s visualisation of the new facility has been released by Orbex today, as well as images of the ongoing construction at Motive Offshore.

The new Launch Platform will support the testing of Orbex´s Prime rocket, a micro-launcher designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit. Although actual launches of the Orbex Prime 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.

Orbex LP1 is the first launchpad of its kind to be built in the UK since the High Down Rocket Test Site facility on the Isle of Wight, which was decommissioned in the early 1970s. High Down was the test site for the Black Arrow rocket, the first – and so far only – British-made rocket to successfully deliver a satellite into Earth's orbit, launching from Woomera in Australia on 28 October 1971.

The new Launch Platform in Kinloss will enable Orbex to accelerate plans to launch Prime from its ‘home’ spaceport at Sutherland in the North of Scotland. 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 early in 2022 ahead of the first expected launch of Orbex Prime later in the year.

Motive Offshore Group has a rich heritage in the design and manufacture of bespoke deck and subsea equipment, and is a major supplier across the energy, oil and gas industries. All equipment is manufactured onsite at Motive’s headquarters in Banff, Scotland, and is built and tested to meet strict international standards across highly regulated industry sectors.

The new Launch Platform will be comprised of all the infrastructure and supporting services that will enable a wide variety of integration tests to take place during launch campaign preparation, including the testing of the main propellant tanks and multi-engine hot fire testing under vertical firing conditions. It will also enable the launch operations team to test launch procedures including rollout, strongback erection and fuelling procedures in advance of the first expected launch.


Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex:

“The ability for our engineers to test Prime on its own launchpad is a major advancement on the roadmap to launch, and 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 in the New Year.”

James Gregg, COO at Motive Offshore Group:

“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.”

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.

https://orbex.space/

About Motive Offshore

Motive Offshore Group is a leading energy industry specialist, prioritising the development of a highly skilled team to create sustainable, multisector solutions that are tailored to clients’ needs. Active in 50 countries worldwide, and with five operating bases servicing the UK, Europe, MENA and APAC regions, Motive specialises in the design, manufacture, rental and inspection of marine and lifting equipment for the onshore and offshore oil and gas, renewables, marine and decommissioning industries. Launched in 2010 by James Gregg and David Acton, Motive is headquartered in Boyndie, Banff, Scotland, with additional facilities in Aberdeen, Blyth, Houston, Stavanger, Taiwan and the Middle East.

For further information, visit motive-offshore.com
« Last Edit: 12/10/2021 08:57 am by PM3 »
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 38551
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 31738
  • Likes Given: 7727
Re: Orbex
« Reply #82 on: 12/12/2021 05:04 am »
Here's an image of what the pad will look like.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline alanr74

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • uk
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 34
Re: Orbex
« Reply #83 on: 02/03/2022 02:20 pm »
They've applied for a launch licence!

https://www.mtdmfg.com/news/orbex-applies-for-licence-to-launch-first-rockets-from-scotland/
Quote
Orbex has submitted its application to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a launch licence, the latest stage on its roadmap to beginning commercial space launches from the UK.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13942
  • UK
  • Liked: 3950
  • Likes Given: 220
Orbex
« Reply #84 on: 05/11/2022 11:19 am »
New video of the Orbex Prime launcher sitting on its Scottish launch pad:

« Last Edit: 05/11/2022 11:22 am by Star One »

Offline catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10617
  • Enthusiast since the Redstones
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 7875
  • Likes Given: 7349
Re: Orbex
« Reply #85 on: 05/11/2022 11:56 am »
The video above (1 min point) shows the trucks carrying the launch platform getting off the highway onto this sideroad skirting the nearby Kinloss Airbase.


GoogleMapStreetView1

GoogleMapStreetView2

So it could be that ORBEX got permission to build their TEMP launch pad using one of the airbase aircraft holding pads in one of these two areas:

Area 1

Area 2

Area 2 is closer to the ocean.

My educated guess, based on the video of terrain, trees, pad configuration, sun passage (based on shadows), and the dirt berm in the background, will be this location on the base

Orbex Launch Pad GoogleMap
« Last Edit: 05/11/2022 12:56 pm by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa, ...I'm no Feline Dealer!! I move mountains.  but I'm better known for "I think it's highly sexual." Japanese to English Translation.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Orbex
« Reply #86 on: 05/11/2022 12:48 pm »
Test launch pad not the actual launch pad or site. See Dec21 post.

Still big achievement to have LV on a pad. Not sure if flight HW or test article.

 

Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk


Offline catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10617
  • Enthusiast since the Redstones
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 7875
  • Likes Given: 7349
Re: Orbex
« Reply #87 on: 05/11/2022 12:56 pm »
Test launch pad not the actual launch pad or site. See Dec21 post.

Still big achievement to have LV on a pad. Not sure if flight HW or test article.

 

Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk



Updated my post, thanks.
Tony De La Rosa, ...I'm no Feline Dealer!! I move mountains.  but I'm better known for "I think it's highly sexual." Japanese to English Translation.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13942
  • UK
  • Liked: 3950
  • Likes Given: 220
Re: Orbex
« Reply #88 on: 05/11/2022 12:59 pm »
Test launch pad not the actual launch pad or site. See Dec21 post.

Still big achievement to have LV on a pad. Not sure if flight HW or test article.

 

Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk
I was wondering that as well if it’s just a test article. I cannot see any accompanying press release or anything of the sort.

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #89 on: 05/11/2022 02:04 pm »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #90 on: 06/02/2022 07:53 am »
https://twitter.com/davidoxleyhie/status/1524311208647667712

Quote
Monumental day for our partners @orbexspace with the unveil of the Prime rocket on the test launch pad at Kinloss. Not every day you see the @HIEScotland logo ready to go into #Space . Countdown to launch starts now at @SpaceSutherland . Here we go #ScotlandIsNow @spacegovuk

Offline Rondaz

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27059
  • Liked: 5301
  • Likes Given: 169
Re: Orbex
« Reply #91 on: 06/22/2022 06:03 pm »
Orbex Prime is the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket - powered by 7 3D printed engines & fuelled by low carbon
@officialcalor Futuria Liquid Gas (previously known as BioLPG).

https://twitter.com/orbexspace/status/1539571457876959232

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #92 on: 10/18/2022 08:42 am »
https://europeanspaceflight.com/orbex-announces-40-4-million-series-c-funding-round/

Quote
Orbex announces £40.4 million Series C funding round
By Andrew Parsonson - October 18, 2022

UK-based launch startup Orbex has announced the successful closing of a £40.4 million (approximately €46.5 million) Series C funding round.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #93 on: 11/01/2022 08:23 am »
https://twitter.com/andrewparsonson/status/1587302773913264129

Quote
JUST IN: @orbexspace has announced that it is moving forward with plans to build and operate its own vertical launch site.

https://europeanspaceflight.com/orbex-to-begin-building-its-own-launch-facility/

Quote
The company signed a lease with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the spaceport location on community-owned land on the A’ Mhoine peninsula in northwest Sutherland.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #94 on: 11/01/2022 10:49 am »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1587410803656892417

Quote
Orbex to lead Construction and Operational Management of Sutherland Spaceport.

Orbex granted a fifty-year lease on UK´s 1st mainland vertical launch spaceport site.

Spaceport specialist Jacobs contracted to deliver £20m construction project.

https://orbex.space/news/orbex-to-lead-construction-and-operational-management-of-sutherland-spaceport

Quote
01 November 2022

Orbex to Lead Construction and Operational Management of Sutherland Spaceport

Forres, UK, November 1, 2022
– A Scottish rocket manufacturer and orbital launch services provider is to build and operate the first vertical launch site for satellites on the UK mainland.

Orbex, based in Forres, Moray, has signed a lease with development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the spaceport location on community-owned land on the A’ Mhoine peninsula in north-west Sutherland.

HIE has been developing launch plans for several years and leases the site from Melness Crofters’ Estate. The sub-lease with Orbex will run for 50 years, with an option to extend for a further 25 years.

Orbex will oversee the construction and assume full operational management of the new facility. The 10-acre launch site will become the long-term ‘home’ spaceport of Orbex and will see the launch of up to 12 orbital rockets per year, carrying satellites into low Earth orbit.

Orbex’s role in the spaceport will stimulate significant private investment that will benefit the local community through job creation, supply chain opportunities and other associated economic benefits. Total private investment over the initial three-year period is expected to reach £20 million.

In addition to increased opportunities for local businesses and contractors as part of the spaceport’s construction, Orbex expects to create up to 40 technical and non-technical FTE jobs to support the operation and maintenance of the site. The roles will span a number of areas including facilities and operational management, security, general administration and finance, marketing, stakeholder engagement and launch campaign-related roles. Employment opportunities will be advertised locally when recruitment commences.

HIE identified the potential for the Highlands and Islands to play a significant role in the UK’s growing space sector several years ago, recognising that rural locations that are close to coasts and have a northern latitude can make ideal satellite launch sites.

With the backing of the UK Space Agency, HIE set to work developing plans for the Sutherland spaceport in 2018, with specialist input from architects NORR and construction consultants Gardiner and Theobald.

At the same time, HIE commissioned detailed environmental studies to inform a broad range of protection measures around the site.

Planning permission was granted by the Highland Council in August 2020. A separate development application to the Scottish Land Court – which was required as the launch site is on crofting land – was also successful.

Following its recent participation in Orbex’s Series C funding round, it has been confirmed that global technology-forward solutions company, Jacobs, will assume the role of prime construction contractor on behalf of Orbex. Jacobs will collaborate with Orbex to provide spaceport operations support, operations consultancy, and engineering services, drawing on its experience of managing and operating complex, highly regulated sites such as Cape Canaveral in the United States. Jacobs is NASA's largest services provider, delivering mission-tailored solutions and full lifecycle aerospace capabilities including the Mars Perseverance Rover and the Artemis deep space human exploration program.

Overseeing the construction and operational management of the new spaceport will allow Orbex to streamline the development of the state-of-the-art facility, drafting in industry experts such as Jacobs to help meet its objectives. Sutherland Spaceport is intended to become the world’s greenest spaceport, both in terms of its construction and its operation. One illustration of this is how peat lifted during the construction will be re-used to repair large areas of peatland that have degraded over centuries.

Uniquely, the new Orbex Prime rocket is powered by a renewable biofuel, Futuria Liquid Gas, supplied by Calor. This fuel allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world. A study by the University of Exeter showed that a single launch of the Orbex Prime rocket will produce 96 per cent lower carbon emissions than comparable space launch systems using fossil fuels. Prime is also a re-usable rocket which has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit. Orbex has already received a great deal of interest from commercial satellite manufacturers and has signed launch contracts with a number of customers.

The spaceport is being constructed on the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland, on land owned and managed by the Melness Crofters’ Estate (MCE) who have worked closely with HIE to bring the spaceport project to fruition and deliver local economic benefits.

Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex:

“We are very grateful for the work that HIE and the Melness Crofters Estate have done, in getting us to the point where we can take the baton and start construction. We have collaborated closely with them over the past few years, and we are completely aligned in our vision of delivering a sustainable spaceport that will bring jobs and prosperity to the region. Orbex is the first European launcher company to also manage a dedicated spaceport. It is an important competitive advantage to the company, which will make it really easy for us to work with customers as we scale up our operations.”

David Oxley, Director of Strategic Projects, Highlands and Islands Enterprise:

“The space industry represents a huge economic opportunity for the Highlands and Islands and for Scotland. The steps we’ve taken to establish launch capability in Sutherland have already delivered a significant economic impact as a key factor in attracting Orbex to establish their manufacturing facility and test site in Moray, creating dozens of skilled jobs, with many more in the pipeline.

“We believe the spaceport has the capacity to generate around 250 jobs in our region, including 40 on site, plus opportunities in manufacturing, supply chain, research and service provision.

“With Orbex now set to build and operate the spaceport, we’ve reached a key stage in our partnership that will not only see launches happening from Sutherland but a whole range of wider economic benefits delivered for the Highlands and Islands.”

Comments from Partners:

Jacobs:

“The Orbex Prime rocket promises to be a game changer for small satellite developers and operators, enabling them to launch light satellites much more efficiently and cost-effectively. Sutherland Spaceport is an important development for the European space industry and will bring major economic and social benefits to North Highland and Moray, where our business has been active for decades in supporting operations, decommissioning and remediation at the Dounreay nuclear site.” - Karen Wiemelt, Senior Vice President, Jacobs Energy, Security and Technology

Melness Crofters’ Estate:

“The Moine is a beautiful part of our estate that deserves to be respected, and we know it is in extremely good hands with Orbex managing the operation of the spaceport. Since the very beginning of our relationship with Orbex, our mutual focus has been very much on safety, the environment and the creation of job opportunities for the local community. We have seen massive population decline in the area over the past few years and our community is being starved of its lifeblood, young people. This is our way - perhaps a less-than-obvious way - of bringing new life back to our area. We are excited for the positive impact this will have on our community over the coming years.” - Dorothy Pritchard, Chair

Scottish Government:

“This announcement brings us another step closer to becoming Europe’s leading space nation through the provision of sustainable launch.

“Innovative companies like Orbex are vital to achieving the aims of our National Strategy for Economic Transformation, that strives for Scotland to be a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators with resilient supply chains.” - Ivan McKee, Business Minister

UK Space Agency:

“The 50-year lease is fantastic news for Orbex and the wider UK space sector.

“Construction of Sutherland Spaceport will mark a major step forward for Scotland’s vertical launch capability and lead to the creation of a range of new jobs in the local community and beyond.

“We’ve provided funding to support the development of Orbex’s Prime rocket and the spaceport, and I’m confident that this new agreement will allow Orbex to strengthen the UK’s position as the leading destination in Europe for commercial spaceflight services and international investment.” - Ian Annett, Deputy CEO

Orbex Media Enquiries
Sonus PR for Orbex
Martin Smith
+44 7413 028 935
[email protected]

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #95 on: 12/06/2022 03:48 pm »
Is there any reliable indication that Orbex has produced anything else but mockup hardware? E.g. any videos of successful engine runs?
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline moontomars

  • Member
  • Posts: 7
  • Liked: 17
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Orbex
« Reply #96 on: 01/30/2023 02:09 pm »
It has been over half a year and I was doing a longer writeup on Orbex, so here are some updates.

Orbex was signed to oversee operation and construction of the smaller of the UK veritcal launch sites, the space hub Sutherland, in November 2022. They will subcontract construction to Jacobs, who do a lot of work for NASA, I believe including for Cape Canaveral.

Orbex has also closed a GBP 40 million funding round from old and new investors. They've almost quadrupled their team size to roughly 130 to 150 now.

Is there any reliable indication that Orbex has produced anything else but mockup hardware? E.g. any videos of successful engine runs?

I don't think there are any specific updates. Looking at the development, I believe Orbex is still in a rather early stage of development.



In a recent podcast, Larmour (Orbex's CEO) has indicated that 2023 is "possible" for a launch, but he would not give timelines, only that the development plan was "36 A1-sized pages" of things they still have to do. Now, I'd say it is highly unlikely we'll get a launch in 2023 considering the circumstances, such as:

- they have a whole spaceport to build, operate and manage, something that they have no preceding knowledge and which will involve massive coordination efforts with outsourcing partners
- they've ramped up employee count only after 2021 (up until then, no more than 50 people have been at Orbex), and a lot of critical infrastructure was delivered only in 2022 (such as large 3D printers etc.)

Another thing that makes me wonder - and I'm very welcoming of criticism on this - is the business plan viability. Larmour is adamant that they'll remain at their maximum of 12 launches per year. Yet, with their supposed promise of "low cost access to space", any launch price over GBP 35,000 per kg (USD 40,000) would be quite a stretch (40k already is!). Now at 150kg payload and 12 launches per year,
- with 300 employees (though 400 are planned) at a very cheap estimated GBP 45,000 cost,
- launch revenue of maximum GBP 5 million,
- launch vehicle cost of very favorable GBP 3,5 million
this comes out to a couple million in profit. But those are very favorable and naive assumptions, and there is no way for a positive return on investment any time soon. Quite perplexing.

I'm also wondering how those launch price calculations for the Sutherland spaceport are being negotiated, when both provider and customer are the same company

My longer Orbex in-depth report here
« Last Edit: 01/30/2023 02:10 pm by moontomars »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #97 on: 04/14/2023 12:07 pm »
twitter.com/andrewparsonson/status/1646826049324437507

Quote
Big news just in: @orbexspace has announced that CEO Chris Larmour will be stepping down. The press release doesn't give a lot of detail stating simply that the change of leadership will allow the company to "prepare for the next stage of growth."

https://twitter.com/andrewparsonson/status/1646826052553961475

Quote
There's no indication of who will be the new CEO, either. According to the Chairman of the board of directors Bart Markus the company will be "making further announcements about the new leadership team in due course."

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #98 on: 06/13/2023 12:55 pm »
Interesting move: Orbex signs collaboration deal with Arianespace:

https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1668581002921357314

Arianespace does not move quickly, and does solid due diligence.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2023 12:58 pm by ringsider »

Offline greybeardengineer

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 161
  • Liked: 425
  • Likes Given: 40
Re: Orbex
« Reply #99 on: 06/13/2023 01:13 pm »
Interesting move: Orbex signs collaboration deal with Arianespace:

I think you got a little ahead of yourself. It basically means Arianspace will look into possible collaboration with Orbex. There is no commitment to do anything other than talk.

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #100 on: 06/13/2023 02:33 pm »
Interesting move: Orbex signs collaboration deal with Arianespace:

There is no commitment to do anything other than talk.

Arianespace doesn't sign such things lightly, esp. with some non-French startup. This will have been all way up to French ministers, Arianegroup CXO etc. Just the fact they announce this is quite surprising.

Arianespace and Orbex to Explore European Launch Partnership

The two launch providers signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore possible joint offering for small satellite launch customers


"Forres, UK, June 13, 2023 – Arianespace, the European launch services provider, and Orbex, the UK-based provider of small satellite launch services, today announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to study possible future cooperation to answer its customers’ requirements.

The agreement aims to increase the joint capabilities and flexibility of both partners’ services. In particular, it is expected that future collaboration would be particularly beneficial for customers planning small satellite constellations, providing a flexible solution for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) payloads.

Light and heavy-lift launch vehicles could jointly support customers in deploying their initial constellations into the required orbital planes, provide precise injections of a smaller number of satellites through dedicated missions, as well as provide replenishment and replacement launches."

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #101 on: 06/14/2023 08:27 am »
Orbex was founded in 2015, and eight years later there is no indication that they have produced anything but talk, mock-up hardware and SpaceX-bashing. A "memorandum of understanding to explore some possibility" fits into this history of loudly doing nothing. It is as vague as a cooperation can be.

I would not be surprised if Orbex goes bankrupt within a few years without having built a working rocket.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline eeergo

Re: Orbex
« Reply #102 on: 06/14/2023 08:59 am »
So I was intrigued by the "Orbex Prime's 90% reduction in carbon emissions according to a study from the University of Exeter" claim, which for obvious reasons sounded very much like unleashed marketing combined with creative accounting.

The propellant of choice for the rocket ("bio-propane") actually also goes by the name "naphtha", which of course sounds much more menacing. Actually, that's the name Russia employs for it, as they've been using it for a while now (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45044.0). Unsure if it's exactly the same substance, additives and all (unlikely), but by all accounts seems close. Evidently, the chemical burning of the fuel will produce the same amount of emissions as other hydrocarbon fuels under the same flight characteristics.

Another matter is of course the substance's upstream production details - ostensibly in this case, they talk about it coming from "renewable diesel production", which implies biofuel production (whose overall carbon impacts are murky, as it can come from expanded crops to produce the necessary vegetable oils, plowed into woods or otherwise wild lands, and reduces food production... or can come from waste processing, which has a much gentler emissions impact: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bbb.1796). It would be nice to see the data the "Exeter University" consulting by Dr. Xiaoyu Yan uses, but I've been unable to find the study which is only available "upon request".

According to the above, biofuel production (without factoring in the bio-naphtha/propane extraction) is on average 40-50 gCO2e/MJ, although it can vary quite a lot, reportedly from 5 gCO2e/MJ to >100 gCO2e/MJ. Typically quoted carbon footprints of fossil natural gas are around 135 gCO2e/MJ. So sure, if they use the absolutely less impactful biofuel production method they might be able to quote that, but not in every case. The provider lists the fuel as around 12 gCO2e/MJ if used at 100% purity, so there's that, but I doubt it's the case when the Exeter study takes into account also black carbon deposition equivalent impacts.

Regarding the nebulous agreement with Arianespace, it's just another one of those (natural) agreements that existed within the EU and now have to be reformulated. Not particularly enthralling for Sutherland.
« Last Edit: 06/14/2023 09:21 am by eeergo »
-DaviD-

Offline DJPledger

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 807
  • Liked: 505
  • Likes Given: 33410
Re: Orbex
« Reply #103 on: 06/14/2023 12:17 pm »
Orbex was founded in 2015, and eight years later there is no indication that they have produced anything but talk, mock-up hardware and SpaceX-bashing. A "memorandum of understanding to explore some possibility" fits into this history of loudly doing nothing. It is as vague as a cooperation can be.

I would not be surprised if Orbex goes bankrupt within a few years without having built a working rocket.
SpaceX rideshare will likely put Orbex out of business before they are able to launch along with a lot of other small LV startups.

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #104 on: 06/14/2023 12:40 pm »
Orbex was founded in 2015, and eight years later there is no indication that they have produced anything but talk, mock-up hardware and SpaceX-bashing. A "memorandum of understanding to explore some possibility" fits into this history of loudly doing nothing. It is as vague as a cooperation can be.

I would not be surprised if Orbex goes bankrupt within a few years without having built a working rocket.
SpaceX rideshare will likely put Orbex out of business before they are able to launch along with a lot of other small LV startups.
That prediction has been made regularly since before even SSO-A back in 2018. Since 'cheaper' is only a single aspect among many that customers use to choose what vehicle to launch with (more often than not cost isn't the sole, or even primary, factor), it will still be just as accurate a prediction in the years to come as it has been previously.

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #105 on: 06/14/2023 10:14 pm »
Orbex was founded in 2015, and eight years later there is no indication that they have produced anything but talk, mock-up hardware and SpaceX-bashing. A "memorandum of understanding to explore some possibility" fits into this history of loudly doing nothing. It is as vague as a cooperation can be.

I would not be surprised if Orbex goes bankrupt within a few years without having built a working rocket.
SpaceX rideshare will likely put Orbex out of business before they are able to launch along with a lot of other small LV startups.
That prediction has been made regularly since before even SSO-A back in 2018. Since 'cheaper' is only a single aspect among many that customers use to choose what vehicle to launch with (more often than not cost isn't the sole, or even primary, factor), it will still be just as accurate a prediction in the years to come as it has been previously.
How about "Rocket Lab dedicated rides will likely put Orbex out of business before they are able to launch," then? Orbex Prime has less payload than Electron, so they can't compete on dedicated rides that can't go with Rocket Lab. They could try capturing the "cannot launch on a US-affiliated rocket" market, but I'm a little skeptical that the UK opens up spaceflight to a significantly wider group of countries. The intersection of those two is relevant, too: while there are payloads which would prefer to launch on a non-ITARed rocket, even though they're capable of launching from a US(-ish) one, there are many companies internationally which plan on providing that, and the ones which have a payload advantage vs. Electron would seem to be much better positioned in the international market too.

Which basically just leaves UK government launches which are intentionally procured from domestic companies to encourage the industry. Will there be enough of those to support not one but two companies (since Skyrora is also out of Scotland)?

Re: Orbex
« Reply #106 on: 06/15/2023 01:37 am »
I don't think SpaceX or Rocket Lab or Skyrora will be the thing that does Orbex in. ABL Space though...
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #107 on: 06/15/2023 03:29 am »
I don't think SpaceX or Rocket Lab or Skyrora will be the thing that does Orbex in. ABL Space though...
Because their mobile launch hardware allows them to launch from SaxaVord, and thus have a "UK" launch (much like how Virgin Orbit's Start Me Up mission was a "UK" launch -- which is to say, basically not at all)?

Re: Orbex
« Reply #108 on: 06/15/2023 03:01 pm »
I don't think SpaceX or Rocket Lab or Skyrora will be the thing that does Orbex in. ABL Space though...
Because their mobile launch hardware allows them to launch from SaxaVord, and thus have a "UK" launch (much like how Virgin Orbit's Start Me Up mission was a "UK" launch -- which is to say, basically not at all)?
And because they have already been contracted to do exactly that, by Lockheed Martin.
Wait, ∆V? This site will accept the ∆ symbol? How many times have I written out the word "delta" for no reason?

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #109 on: 06/15/2023 04:06 pm »
I still don't understand why "this American company is launching from the UK" is competition for a UK-based launch company, except insofar as launch is a globally-competitive marketplace in general. But it's not like an American company launching from the UK is any more of a threat than an American company launching from New Zealand. They've both got the same regulations and red tape to satisfy American agencies, and whatever pain is reduced by not shipping the payload itself out of the UK is surely much less than the pain of shipping the whole rocket and launch infrastructure into the UK.

If the UK wants sovereign launch capabilities, they won't achieve that by having a foreign company fly all the equipment in, so in what sense does said foreign company compete with a domestic company whose whole raison d'etre is providing that sovereign launch?

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #110 on: 06/16/2023 08:04 am »
whatever pain is reduced by not shipping the payload itself out of the UK is surely much less than the pain of shipping the whole rocket and launch infrastructure into the UK.
When shipping a launch vehicle to the UK, the overhead is borne by the launch provider who need to fold that cost into their offered launch price (whilst still remaining competitive with any domestic providers), whereas when shipping a satellite to NZ/US/etc that export overhead is borne by the customer.
i.e. ABL's launch-from-UK sticker-price needs to be competitive with Orbex's launch-from-UK sticker price, but ABL have to eat the overhead cost of importing the rocket (both physical shipment and paperwork) as part of that pricing whilst Orbex do not.

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #111 on: 06/16/2023 02:37 pm »
whatever pain is reduced by not shipping the payload itself out of the UK is surely much less than the pain of shipping the whole rocket and launch infrastructure into the UK.
When shipping a launch vehicle to the UK, the overhead is borne by the launch provider who need to fold that cost into their offered launch price (whilst still remaining competitive with any domestic providers), whereas when shipping a satellite to NZ/US/etc that export overhead is borne by the customer.
i.e. ABL's launch-from-UK sticker-price needs to be competitive with Orbex's launch-from-UK sticker price, but ABL have to eat the overhead cost of importing the rocket (both physical shipment and paperwork) as part of that pricing whilst Orbex do not.
Does it really matter whether the shipping costs are directly paid by the customer, or indirectly paid through the launch price increasing? My point with comparing ABL and Rocket Lab was that on net, I would expect the total shipping cost to be lower for Rocket Lab, since a much smaller thing is being shipped. Now, the benefit of Orbex is that nothing needs to be shipped into or out of the UK: both payload and rocket can stay in the country until they're launched. But if we're comparing Orbex to foreign companies, I don't think it matters whether the shipping costs are a separate line item or rolled into the launch price: a customer will see that this is an additional cost over doing things domestically. And if they were choosing between foreign providers, I don't think "one of them ships their rocket here (thus making it more expensive)" would inherently be appealing, thus make that one more competitive with the domestic company than the foreign provider which requires the payload to be shipped.

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #112 on: 06/17/2023 03:33 pm »
whatever pain is reduced by not shipping the payload itself out of the UK is surely much less than the pain of shipping the whole rocket and launch infrastructure into the UK.
When shipping a launch vehicle to the UK, the overhead is borne by the launch provider who need to fold that cost into their offered launch price (whilst still remaining competitive with any domestic providers), whereas when shipping a satellite to NZ/US/etc that export overhead is borne by the customer.
i.e. ABL's launch-from-UK sticker-price needs to be competitive with Orbex's launch-from-UK sticker price, but ABL have to eat the overhead cost of importing the rocket (both physical shipment and paperwork) as part of that pricing whilst Orbex do not.
Does it really matter whether the shipping costs are directly paid by the customer, or indirectly paid through the launch price increasing?
Yes. If you're looking at two quotes, both of roughly the same price, but one requires you to handle international shipping of your satellite (and ensuring it arrives undamaged), deal with export and import law (and potentially ITAR issues), possibly requiring you to hire a whole new member of staff just to handle those international logistics and legal challenges, and do so all at your own expense; and the other is a few hours drive away with a rent-a-van, that second option looks a lot more attractive. Even if that option costs more, you have to weight it up vs the other price plus your best estimate of those extra costs (and time cost!) of what it will take for the international option, along with some fudge factor for when things inevitably turn out to be more complicated and slower than you expect.

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #113 on: 06/17/2023 06:03 pm »
Yes. If you're looking at two quotes, both of roughly the same price...
Can you explain to me how ABL is incurring significant extra internal costs (ones greater than all the extra costs you go on to describe later in your comment) without passing those onto the customer, leading to a higher price? Is it because they've decided to accept a much lower profit margin? Because if so, this comparison isn't about whether a customer wants to go with the company that ships their rocket into the UK vs. the company that requires shipping the payload out of the UK; it's whether the customer wants to go with the company that has a 10% profit margin vs. a 50% profit margin (or whatever, these numbers are made up). Obviously, from the customer's point of view, you'd prefer the company with a significantly lower profit margin, and that may outweigh other factors. But that certainly doesn't tell us anything about the relative value to the customer of those other factors.

The only possible explanation I could see is "ABL ships rockets into the UK so often that they've got a streamlined process for it, they know all the agencies to contact and all the shipping companies to use, so the marginal cost of doing it again is fairly low." Obviously, they're not there yet, having not yet shipped even a single rocket into the UK. Also, it would be possible for a company like Rocket Lab to set up a division to help customers deal with their own shipping issues; just pay Rocket Lab a fee on top of the launch cost, and they'll handle the rest. That would even fit in with Rocket Lab's whole "end-to-end space solutions" concept.

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #114 on: 06/17/2023 06:49 pm »
The propellant of choice for the rocket ("bio-propane") actually also goes by the name "naphtha"

Propane = naphtha? Why then do they have different market prices and chemical formulae?

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Liked: 426
  • Likes Given: 33
Re: Orbex
« Reply #115 on: 06/18/2023 03:32 pm »
The propellant of choice for the rocket ("bio-propane") actually also goes by the name "naphtha"

Propane = naphtha? Why then do they have different market prices and chemical formulae?
I'm not sure what the substance referred to as 'naphtha' in Russia is exactly but it's not a cryogen so it definitely isn't propane. For whatever reason names of hydrocarbon derivatives vary drastically between languages and regions (is the stuff that goes in my car petrol, gas, or benzin?).
« Last Edit: 06/19/2023 12:42 pm by Kryten »

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5965
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9111
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: Orbex
« Reply #116 on: 06/19/2023 11:24 am »
The propellant of choice for the rocket ("bio-propane") actually also goes by the name "naphtha"

Propane = naphtha? Why then do they have different market prices and chemical formulae?
I'm not sure what the substance referred to as 'naphtha' in Russia is exactly but it's not a cryogen so it definitely isn't propane. For whatever reason names of hydrocarbon derivatives very drastically between languages and regions (is the stuff that goes in my car petrol, gas, or benzine?).
Similar to Kerosene: US Kerosene can mean an aviation fuel (JP-8 and RP-1) or for the refined lamp/heating fuel. In the UK, the aviation fuel is still Kerosene but the lamp/heating fuel is Paraffin. In the US, Paraffin would be understood as liquid Paraffin oil (a refined mineral oil) rather than the lamp fuel.

As for Orbex: they specifically use Calor's BioLPG, which is a byproduct from biodiesel hydrogenolysis. It's basically Propane derived from a different feedstock.

Naphtha on the other hand is a different product than Propane. Propane is a cryogenic liquid and a specific product, whereas Naphtha is not cryogenic (boils above room temperature) and is a category of crude derivative light products with varying compositions.

Offline eeergo

Re: Orbex
« Reply #117 on: 06/19/2023 11:55 am »
You guys caught an error in my post: indeed naphtha is a byproduct of biodiesel production, together with propane, but they aren't the same thing. They are referred to together in the literature as byproducts that are obtained contemporarily, but definitely not as the same substance.

However, they can be mixed together into a single substance (see Table 1 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bbb.1796), sometimes referrred to as "renewable naphtha" (70% propane, 30% naphtha), that is generically called "light-ends fraction". Quite probably not the "BioLPG" Orbex intends to use, just the direct precursor from which it is extracted.
-DaviD-

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47313
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 80124
  • Likes Given: 36283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #118 on: 11/09/2023 06:54 am »
https://twitter.com/andrewparsonson/status/1722507958460747868

Quote
In case you missed it, I published issue 78 of the newsletter yesterday. In this issue, I looked at Orbex, its 2022 financials, and how the company is progressing with the construction of Sutherland Spaceport in Scotland.

https://europeanspaceflight.substack.com/p/a-peek-behind-the-orbex-curtains

Offline PM3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1827
  • Likes Given: 1283
Re: Orbex
« Reply #119 on: 12/05/2023 11:32 am »
Orbex is alive:

https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/uk-rocket-first-sustainable-satellite-launch

They are integrating stages, hope to start stage testing soon, and have trouble with too much dust in their test range near Copenhagen. "Currently applying for licenses for Sutherland Spaceport and its launch vehicle."

That's all for now. No roadmap to launch, just trying to make progress.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #120 on: 01/08/2024 05:59 pm »
Interesting comment in the Financial Times today:

https://www.ft.com/content/e0969502-c246-4b3c-9193-5b4196c1dbd5

Extract:

However, Orbex is already discussing the possibility of developing a larger rocket to meet demand, even before it makes its first flight with Prime, according to both Chambers and Coates. This would require substantial extra funding, according to analysts. “For sure those thoughts are happening,” Coates said. “Prime is the start. It is the beginning of the journey for this organisation.”

“Logically it makes sense if you want to drive prices down, all this can only really happen with a larger rocket,” Chambers told the FT. “The question is how will it be supported financially.”
« Last Edit: 01/08/2024 06:00 pm by ringsider »

Offline deathofapenguin

  • Member
  • Posts: 2
  • cambridge uk
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #121 on: 02/13/2024 11:48 am »
Artile shared today about Orbex's new patent on co-axial tanks, includes a picture of a loaded propellant tank, this appears to be one of the first images of any hardware testing we have from them.

https://orbex.space/news/orbex-secures-international-patent-for-coaxial-rocket-fuel-tanks

Offline WmThomas

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 163
  • An objective space fan
  • Liked: 85
  • Likes Given: 5067
Re: Orbex
« Reply #122 on: 02/13/2024 02:26 pm »
How does the coaxial tank (fuel tank within the oxidizer tank) save on tank mass? I'm confused.

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #123 on: 02/13/2024 02:31 pm »
How does the coaxial tank (fuel tank within the oxidizer tank) save on tank mass? I'm confused.
I guess in theory, if you would want to sub-chill the fuel, this approach means the oxidizer is acting like an insulator keeping the fuel cold? Orbex uses propane/LOX.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1511
  • the Netherlands
  • Liked: 604
  • Likes Given: 210
Re: Orbex
« Reply #124 on: 02/13/2024 05:14 pm »
I think the technology allows for a propallent tank with higher diameter over length ratio.
The most optimal pressure vessel form factor is a sphere, afterwards come cilinders.
But you require tanks for both fuel and oxidizer, so you require two spheres or cilinders.
With the Orbex patented technology a cylindrical fuel tank can be enclosed inside a spherical oxidizer tank.
This allows a very stubby propellent tank structure 

Offline trimeta

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1659
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Liked: 2121
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: Orbex
« Reply #125 on: 02/13/2024 05:53 pm »
I think the technology allows for a propallent tank with higher diameter over length ratio.
The most optimal pressure vessel form factor is a sphere, afterwards come cilinders.
But you require tanks for both fuel and oxidizer, so you require two spheres or cilinders.
With the Orbex patented technology a cylindrical fuel tank can be enclosed inside a spherical oxidizer tank.
This allows a very stubby propellent tank structure
You've got a good point about fineness ratio, that may make concentric-tank rockets more capable of handling aerodynamic loads and thus launching in a wider range of weather.

Offline deathofapenguin

  • Member
  • Posts: 2
  • cambridge uk
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Orbex
« Reply #126 on: 02/14/2024 09:08 am »
I think there are two other benefits that haven't been mentioned. One is that since both tanks can be accessed from the bottom, the required plumbing is reduced, as there is no need for a large downcomer. That and pressurisation systems might be able to be made smaller. The mass reduction woulnd't be huge, but on a small vehicle like this it probably has a noticable effect. Scaling up to larger vehicles I doubt would be that effective though.
The other benefit is that the inner tank doesn't need to be structural, it is simply acting more as a barrier between fuel and oxidiser which would be held at roughly similar pressures. This means it wouldn't undergo much loading, so it can be made to have much thinner walls and reduce the overall weight.

Offline ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Liked: 504
  • Likes Given: 96
Re: Orbex
« Reply #127 on: 02/14/2024 01:26 pm »
From the patent:

--

The present invention is in the field of rockets for launching objects, such assatellites, into space. In particular, the present invention is in the field of fuel tanks for such rockets. Various types of rockets are employed for launching objects into space.

For example, various approaches are undertaken to make the launching of satellites into space more readily accessible. Irrespective of the kinds of objects to be launched, rockets have to deal with the issue that the structure and the fuel required for launching the rocket are very heavy compared to the object to belaunched into space, commonly referred to as payload terms of the rocket dynamics.

Despite extensive efforts of increasing the efficiency of rockets in terms of minimizing the amount of fuel needed for a particular payload, the energy efficiency of state of the art rockets is still not satisfactory.

Accordingly, it would be beneficial to modify existing rocket designs for an increase in energy efficiency.

Exemplary embodiments of the invention include a rocket propellant tank arrangement for storing fuel and oxidizer for launching a rocket, the rocket propellant tank comprising an the oxygen fuel tank tank for storing liquid oxygen and a fuel tank for storing liquid fuel, wherein the fuel tank is at least partially stored within the oxygen tank.

Exemplary embodiments of the invention allow for a rocket propellant tank arrangement that is able to store highly energetic propellants, while having a lowstructural mass and thus contributing to a high energy efficiency of the overall rocket.

The arrangement of the fuel tank at least partially within the oxygen tank allows for a particularly lightweight construction of the rocket propellant tank arrangement, thus greatly contributing to the overall energy efficiency of a rocket equipped with this rocket propellant tank arrangement. It is possible to select the fuel for a particular rocket and the temperatures / pressures for the liquid fuel and the liquid oxygen in a way that the structural burden on the separation between the fuel tank and the oxygen tank is low. Also, the requirements in terms of insulation may be low.

The separation between the fuel tank and the oxygen tank may thus add much less weight to the overall structural mass of the rocket than the components required for supporting separate tanks that are surrounded by the outside environment.

Accordingly, as compared to prior approaches, where a fuel tank and an oxidizer tank were stacked in a one above the other relationship, an equivalent amount of propellants can be stored with a considerably lower structural mass.

According to a further embodiment, the fuel tank is one of a propane tank for storing liquid propane, a propene tank for storing liquid propene, and a propylene tank for storing liquid propylene. In particular, the combination of liquid oxygen and liquid propane allows for an energetically beneficial propulsion of a rocket. At the same time, the arrangement of a propane tank at least partially within the oxygen tank allows for a particularly lightweight construction of the rocket propellant tank arrangement. The separation between the oxygen tank and the propane tank does not require excessive mechanical strength and does not require excessive thermal insulation, because liquid oxygen and liquid propane can be stored at similar temperatures and similar pressures. Without burdensome requirements in terms of mechanical strength and insulation, the separation between the oxygen tank and the propane tank can be implemented in a fairly basic manner and does not add much weight to the overall weight of the rocket.

In addition, the arrangement of the propane tank at least partially within the oxygen tank allows for a mutual cooling of the liquid oxygen and the liquid propane. Also, the similar pressures within the propane tank and the oxygen tank allow for the separation between the two tanks to be a mere mechanical barrier that prevents diffusion therethrough from any of the two components, without requiring large mechanical strength in terms of pressure gradients. The propane tank does not have to be designed for being surrounded by the outside environment.

Analogous considerations apply to the combination of liquid propene and liquid oxygen as well as to the combination of liquid propylene and liquid oxygen.

According to a further embodiment, the rocket propellant tank arrangement comprises a fuel tank wall, which forms the fuel tank for storing liquid fuel. With the fuel tank being at least partially arranged within the oxygen tank, the fuel tank wall can form an effective border towards the oxygen tank at low structural massfor the reasons laid out above. The expression forming the fuel tank does not require the fuel tank wall to form an entirely enclosed space. For example, the fuel tank wall may be a cylindrical wall, with the fuel tank being closed by fuel tank caps.

According to a further embodiment, the rocket propellant tank arrangement comprises an oxygen tank wall, arranged at least partially around the fuel tank wall, with the fuel tank wall and the oxygen tank wall forming the oxygen tank for storing liquid oxygen between the fuel tank wall and the oxygen tank wall. In this way, the fuel tank wall forms both the surrounding wall around the fuel tank as well as an inner wall of the oxygen tank. In this way, liquid fuel and liquid oxygen are stored adjacent to each other, with only the fuel tank wall separating the two volumes for storing fuel and oxidizer. Again, the oxygen tank may be closed by oxygen tank caps, provided in addition to the oxygen tank wall.

According to a further embodiment, a plurality of fuel tank fixation elements are arranged between the fuel tank wall and the oxygen tank wall. In this way, a positional fixation of the fuel tank within the oxygen tank can be achieved with low complexity. As the temperature and pressure gradients between the oxygen tank and the fuel tank are small, the fuel tank fixation elements can have a low structural mass and do not have to be load bearing. In a particular embodiment, the plurality of fuel tank fixation elements may be aplurality of fixation fins. The fixation fins may be sheet-like elements extending between the fuel tank wall and the oxygen tank wall.

In a further particular embodiment, the plurality of fuel tank fixation elements maybe a plurality of slosh baffles. In this way, the fuel tank fixation elements may on the one hand provide a positional fixation of the fuel tank within the oxygen tank while at the same time reducing or eliminating undesired dynamic effects from the liquid oxygen moving within the oxygen tank. The slosh baffles may also have the form of fixation fins.

According to a further embodiment, the fuel tank wall is made of aluminium, steel, in particular austenitic stainless steel, carbon fiber based composites or composite overwrap aluminium. The latter material is aluminium, wrapped or coated with composite material, such as carbon fiber based composites. Aluminium, composite materials and composite overwrap aluminium are particularly light materials.The fuel tank wall may also be a mixture of two or more of the above materials.

According to a further embodiment, the fuel tank wall is free of insulating material. In this way, the structural mass, spent on insulating the fuel tank in prior art approaches, can be eliminated, thus increasing the overall energy efficiency of therocket. Further, with the fuel tank being at least partially arranged within the oxygen tank, the lack of insulating material in fact allows for a beneficial mutual cool-ing of the liquid oxygen and the liquid fuel.

According to a further embodiment, the fuel tank wall has a thickness of between 0.1 mm and 15 mm, in particular of between 0.5 mm and 10 mm, further in partic-ular of between mm and 5 mm. With this thickness, the fuel tank wall mayprovide an effective barrier between the liquid oxygen and the liquid fuel, while only contributing little mass to the overall weight of the rocket. The fuel tank wall may also comprise enforcing elements, such as stiffeners, stringers, isogrid fea-tures, etc. These enforcing elements may be included in above thickness values or may locally add thickness. The enforcing elements may be arranged on the in-side of the fuel tank.

According to a further embodiment, the pressure within the fuel tank and within the oxygen tank may be between 1 bar and 30 bar in operation.

According to a further embodiment, the fuel tank has a generally cylindrical shape. In this way, the fuel tank has a shape that can be surrounded by the liquid oxygen tank in a regular manner. Also a generally cylindrical fuel tank can be conveniently slid into the inner space, provided by the oxygen tank wall, during manu-facture.

According to a further embodiment, the oxygen tank has a generally hollow cylindrical shape. In other words, the space between a generally cylindrical fuel tank wall and a generally cylindrical oxygen tank wall may form a generally hollow cylinder, with this generally hollow cylinder forming the oxygen tank of the rocket propellant tank arrangement.

--

And so on, read it here:

https://worldwide.espacenet.com/patent/search/family/057796256/publication/CA3050033A1?q=Orbital%20express%20launch

Interestingly they covered propane, propene and propylene fuels, but not the fuel system used by a competing firm that appears to have discovered this concept around about the time the patent was published.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2024 01:27 pm by ringsider »

Offline HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1704
  • Liked: 2177
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Orbex
« Reply #128 on: 02/16/2024 01:03 am »
No one does prior art searches anymore: http://www.astronautix.com/p/phoenixc.html

Phoenix C/E design used LOX, Propane (sub cooled) and LH2 in concentric low pressure tanks.

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Orbex
« Reply #129 on: 02/16/2024 04:48 am »
Seriously. A lot of hobby liquids use coax tanks, and Bagaveev Corp (jank as they were) flew a LOX/propane coax tank rocket back in 2015.
I tried it at home

Offline HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1704
  • Liked: 2177
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Orbex
« Reply #130 on: 02/17/2024 03:23 pm »
No one does prior art searches anymore: http://www.astronautix.com/p/phoenixc.html

Phoenix C/E design used LOX, Propane (sub cooled) and LH2 in concentric low pressure tanks.

Oh, and...Chrysler SERV: http://www.astronautix.com/s/serv.html

Tags:
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
1