Space launch company Orbex has secured $24m (£18m) in a funding round led by BGF and Octopus Ventures.
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,” said Keith Barclay, Investor at BGF.
“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.”
Conceived and developed as an environmentally sustainable launch system, the Orbex Prime rocket 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 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.
The funding round is completed by a €2.5m 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.
“This financing round is an important step forward for Orbex,” said Chris Larmour, Orbex CEO.
“It helps us maintain our rapid pace and allows us to move forward with certainty towards our first launch from the Sutherland spaceport.”