UK’s rocket plans
Space companies Lockheed Martin and Orbex are investing in space launch operations and plan to bring innovative new technology to Britain, business secretary Greg Clark announced today (Monday 16 July) during the Farnborough International Airshow.
Two separate government grants worth a combined £23.5 million will assist Lockheed Martin in establishing vertical launch operations at Sutherland using proven technology and to develop an innovative new system in Reading for deploying small satellites. Known as an ‘orbital manoeuvring vehicle’, this will be the upper stage of Lockheed Martin’s rocket and will deploy up to six small satellites to separate orbits.
The figure includes a £5.5 million grant to UK-based Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, with the support of British manufacturing operations and supply chains. Its orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, will deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to hydrocarbon fuels.
The announcements build on awards of £2.5m to the Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland and a £2m development fund for horizontal spaceports such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our Industrial Strategy. The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.
“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”
Horizontal launch sites have significant potential in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain. Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will share a new £2m fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.
See blog post – Lift-off for Scotland