Orbital launch services company Orbex has appointed two tech and space sector stalwarts as its new CEO and executive chair.

Orbex is building Prime, a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket designed to transport small satellites weighing up to 180kg into Low Earth Orbit. 

Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, which allows the rocket to reduce carbon emissions significantly compared to other similarly sized rockets being developed elsewhere around the world.

Last year, Orbex began construction of Sutherland Spaceport (formerly Space Hub Sutherland) on the North coast of Scotland. It is the first vertical launch spaceport to be built on the UK mainland and will become Orbex’s ‘home’ spaceport, where the company will launch up to 12 rockets per year for the deployment of satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Scaleup expert Phillip Chambers joins as CEO of the Scottish SpaceTech alongside Miguel Belló Mora, who leaves his post as director general of the Spanish Space Agency.

Chambers joins with more than two decades of experience in building innovative companies, scaling technology platforms for some of Europe’s most successful startups, including Gumtree, Peakon (acquired by Workday) and Qype (acquired by Yelp). 

Chambers has already been part of the Orbex journey, becoming an investor in the firm’s Series C funding round during which the company raised £40.4 million.

Belló Mora most recently held the role of director general of the Spanish Space Agency and commissioner for the Aerospace Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE), where he oversaw a €4.5 billion programme for the Spanish aerospace sector. 

This followed a career in leadership positions including founder and CEO of DEIMOS space group and CEO of the Atlantic International Research Centre.

The new arrivals will work together to realise Orbex’s position as the leading orbital launch company in Europe. Orbex has already confirmed six commercial satellite launch contracts and is developing one of the most environmentally sustainable orbital launch rockets in the world.

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As CEO, Chambers will oversee the next phase in Orbex’s growth journey, including the completion of its Sutherland Spaceport, which will be the first spaceport globally to be carbon-neutral in its construction and operation, testing phases and regulatory licensing. This journey will culminate in the company’s first launch from the UK mainland. 

“It’s a hugely exciting time to be joining Orbex and the global space industry as we look ahead to a significant period of growth for the business,” said Chambers.

“As we progress towards the completion of the Sutherland Spaceport and our continuing work towards our first launch, we’re about to embark on an incredible journey. Orbex’s work is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and after having already invested in the vision, I’m looking forward to focusing all my energy on driving Orbex towards the next phase of growth.”

Belló Mora added: “I’ve never experienced a more exciting time during my 40 years in the space industry. Orbex’s ambition to continually drive the industry forward in both technology and green innovation, is unique for the business, and I am pleased to be able to help shape this. 

“To be joining at the same time as Phil is an added bonus, and I look forward to working closely together during what is shaping up to be a crucial few years for Orbex.”

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