Forres, UK, 8th January 2024 - UK-based orbital launch services company, Orbex, has today announced the appointment of two tech and space sector stalwarts as its new CEO and Executive Chair. Scale-up expert Phillip Chambers joins as Orbex’s new Chief Executive Officer and Miguel Belló Mora leaves his post as Director General of the Spanish Space Agency to join as Executive Chair.

Chambers joins with more than two decades of experience in building innovative companies, scaling technology platforms for some of Europe’s most successful start-ups, 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 an illustrious career in leadership positions including Founder and CEO of DEIMOS space group and CEO of the Atlantic International Research Centre.

The pair join at a critical time for the UK space sector, which is rapidly developing the necessary capabilities to launch satellites into orbit for the first time. They 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.

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. As full-time Executive Chair, Belló Mora will provide crucial industry knowledge to support Orbex’s ambitious strategy.

Phillip Chambers, CEO of Orbex, said:

“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. 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.”

Miguel Belló Mora, Executive Chair of the Orbex Board, 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.”

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.

Source: Orbex

Forres, UK, May 11, 2022 – Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket on its dedicated launch pad publicly for the first time.

The unveiling of the first of a new generation of European launch vehicles - designed to launch a new category of very small satellites to orbit - represents a major step forward for the British rocket company as it prepares for the first ever vertical rocket launch to orbit from UK soil. Orbex´s Prime rocket is the first 'micro-launcher' developed in Europe to reach this stage of technical readiness.

With the first full integration of the Orbex rocket on a launch pad now complete, the company is able to enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimisation of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed their first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company's headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland.

Prime is a 19-metre long, two-stage rocket that is powered by seven engines, that is being designed and manufactured in the UK and Denmark. The six rocket engines on the first stage of the rocket will propel the vehicle through the atmosphere to an altitude of around 80km. The single engine on the second stage of the rocket will complete the journey to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), allowing the release of its payload of small, commercial satellites into Earth's orbit.

Uniquely, Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable bio-fuel, bio-propane, supplied by Calor UK. 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.

Josef Aschbacher, Director General, European Space Agency (ESA):

“I am deeply impressed with the speed at which the Orbex Prime rocket was developed. It is the first full orbital micro-launcher in Europe. But I am equally impressed by the low-carbon footprint technology applied. My sincere congratulations to the whole Orbex team for this impressive achievement.”

Orbex Prime will launch from Space Hub Sutherland, a new spaceport being constructed on the North Coast of Scotland. Space Hub Sutherland was the first vertical spaceport to receive planning permission in the UK and will be the first European spaceport brought into operation later in 2022. It is also the first and only spaceport worldwide that has committed to being carbon-neutral, both in its construction and operation.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency:

“We are on the cusp of an historic moment, with Orbex playing a leading role in generating a brand new launch capability in the UK, while creating opportunities for people and businesses across the country. I can’t wait to see Prime lift off from Space Hub Sutherland.”

UK Science Minister George Freeman:

“This is a hugely exciting time for the UK space and satellite sector as we count down to the first satellite launches from UK spaceports. Orbex Prime is a remarkable feat of engineering from a British rocket company, pioneering more sustainable and innovative fuels that cut carbon emissions. It is also fantastic to see Moray-based Orbex creating more high-quality jobs, demonstrating the value of our thriving space sector to support emerging clusters of innovation to help level up the whole of the UK.”

The market for small satellites is increasing rapidly, as a wide range of new small satellite constellations are developed and deployed. Micro-launchers such as Orbex Prime give satellite manufacturers a dedicated launch service, in contrast to larger, ‘rideshare’ launchers, where small satellites are a often a secondary payload, and frequently face significant delays.

Chris Larmour, CEO, Orbex:

“This is a major milestone for Orbex and highlights just how far along our development path we now are. From the outside, it might look like an ordinary rocket, but on the inside, Prime is unlike anything else. To deliver the performance and environmental sustainability we wanted from a 21st century rocket we had to innovate in a wide number of areas – low-carbon fuels, fully 3D-printed rocket engines, very lightweight fuel tanks, and a novel, low-mass reusability technology.”

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.

Source: Orbex