Even more small space. Britain wants to return to the space powers

Only today the article “ More Small Space? ” Was published, as another news appeared on this topic. The British company Orbex has released new details about a small space rocket, which should be ready in the next few years.

In a presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s commercial space conference on November 22, Orbex CEO Chris Larmore said that the company had made significant progress in developing a launch vehicle designed to launch small satellites, primarily into polar orbits.

Orbex is working on a small booster rocket, which, according to Larmour, can take up to 165 kilograms into polar orbit from a launch site on the north coast of Scotland. This place, he said, provides “sufficient water surface” to run north.

The company has a production workshop of 1200 square meters. meters and a separate test area of ​​1000 square meters, although Larmur refused to say where they are. Orbex plans to build a larger plant with an area of ​​2000 square meters closer to the launch site in Scotland, as soon as the LV is ready for production.

Slide from the presentation, photo Orbex

Orbex pays special attention to the development of an engine with a load of 3060 kgf, including components made using additive technologies. According to him, the engine was launched 45 times, including a recent test, when the engine was stopped prematurely, according to the test plan.

This engine is a key part of Orbex’s effort to reduce vehicle mass. “One of the dirty little secrets of lightweight rockets is heavy. Currently, we have a patent for a new architecture, which will facilitate the design by 30 percent. " In addition to using composite materials, he said that six engines would be used in the first stage.

Test case of the case of a step, photo Orbex

However, many of the basic details about the rocket remain undisclosed. He refused to name the fuel that the engine will use with liquid oxygen, saying only that it is not methane or rocket-based kerosene, known as RP-1, but it is known that the fuel will remain liquid at cryogenic temperatures of liquid oxygen.

Even the name of the rocket is hidden. “The rocket has an unofficial name, but we haven’t exactly decided what it will be,” he said.

According to him, Orbex is in the process of closing the fourth round of financing, mainly from rich people, as well as venture companies. This includes funding announced in June by High-Tech Gründerfonds, a German investment firm. Larmur did not disclose how much money was invested in the company so far, but in a later interview he said that cumulative financing today would be equivalent to the “Series A” round.

Larmur declined to say when to expect the first launch. He later added that he expects the cost and development time to be comparable with Rocket Lab. Rocket Lab began working on what would become an Electron booster in 2010, with the first, partially successful launch in May of this year. Rocket Lab has raised $ 148 million today, although the $ 75 million that was included in the D-series financing round in March is intended to expand production capacity.

He did not announce the price for the launch, but said that the company had letters of intent from a number of customers and added that by the end of the year the company plans to sign its first contract to launch a scientific satellite weighing 50 kilograms from an unknown organization. The company's business plan provides for one launch per month, but the enterprise will be successful even with three launches per year.

Governmental support

Larmor praised the British Space Agency for supporting the emerging small launch sector, saying that it is “extremely useful” to the company. “I want to praise them for what they are doing now,” he said. "The British Space Agency is undergoing various processes that stimulate launches from the UK."

Among these processes is potential funding for companies like Orbex to support new media development efforts. In February, the agency began accepting applications for grants to support the development of launch opportunities from the UK by 2020. The offers are not limited to the number of companies that can move, but there is a limit on the amount of funding in the amount of 10 million pounds (13 million US dollars).

“The participants showed a strong interest in this program,” said Claire Barchem, director of the satellite launch program at the British Space Agency, in a separate presentation at the conference. The agency received 26 proposals and selected a small number of finalists among them, for further consideration. "We hope that in the near future we will be able to announce the outcome of this process."

The government also submitted a bill aimed at creating a regulatory framework for launches from the country. This bill, which is currently being considered by the House of Lords, is due to be submitted to the House of Commons in December and may be adopted soon at the beginning of next year.

The UK focuses on small launch vehicles and launch sites for them, however, a number of questions arise as to whether this is the best use of government funding, given the growing number of small missile development projects around the world. They are all looking for a place on the market, the size of which remains uncertain.

Nonetheless, Barchem said that the development of opportunities for launching inside the country is crucial to ensuring that the country remains the leader in the global market for small satellites. “We have a whole chain for building small satellites and their services in the UK,” she said, calling the lack of launch opportunities the “missing link” for the industry. "We would like to start launching small satellites from the British space centers to fill this gap."

A source

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/408647/

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