The British start-up, which specializes in aerospace, has just presented its Prime Light Prime on February 7, 2019 and is equipped with the largest rocket engine to date acquired by additive manufacturing.
Technology that has many advantages
Recently unveiled on the occasion of the inauguration of its new headquarters in Forres, Scotland, the second phase of its Prime launcher has excellent functions because it is equipped with the "largest rocket engine in the world to be printed in 3D". Thanks to the collaboration with SLM Solutions – a 3D printing company specializing in metal parts – Orbex has succeeded in developing a one-piece engine using a super alloy and without any seal.
The technical features that allow this small rocket (19 m high for a diameter of 1.3 m) to be innovative do not stop there. Orbex has indeed indicated that the second phase of Prime is made with a composite material of carbon fiber and aluminum, making it "30% lighter and 20% more efficient" than the size comparable. Moreover, the engine design would also make the whole a lot more sustainable, as Orbex says: "The lack of welding or assembling also means that the rocket is more resistant to extreme fluctuations in temperature and pressure."
This surprising engine will also be the first one designed to work with biopropane, as explained by the CEO of Orbex to our colleagues at Digital Trends: "The other big step forward with this rocket motor is that it is the first commercial rocket motor designed to work with biopropane, a renewable and clean fuel."
A first mission for 2021
Designed to be launched in a small satellite, Prime has already been approached by several customers and the launch launch is expected to be completed in 2021 on behalf of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), & # 39; the world's largest manufacturer of small satellites.
Astrocast SA, a Swiss start-up, has also chosen Orbex to launch its constellation of 64 nanosatellites, with which it can set up an IoT network above our heads. The first launch for Astrocast SA is planned for 2023 with a useful load of 10 nanosatellites.