Elecnor Deimos, originally established in Spain, has acquired a stake in U.K.-based spaceflight company Orbex as part of persistent efforts to build on previous collaborations for the launch of satellites.
As part of the agreement, Orbex will become the preferred supplier for all launch services required to place Elecnor Deimos satellites into orbit. Elecnor Deimos will likewise become the preferred supplier of various critical launch systems required to develop and operate the Orbex launcher system, including the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system.
Orbex is in the process of building a re-designed orbital launch vehicle – Prime, to deliver small satellites into the Earth’s orbit.
The Prime launcher has a novel architecture that eliminates the fundamental mass challenge of small launchers. Prime launchers are up to 30% lighter and 20% more efficient than any other vehicle in the small launcher story_category, packing more power per cubic liter than many heavy launchers.
Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium.
Meanwhile, Elecnor Deimos will use its expertise to develop Orbex launcher in Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) including algorithms, software, test benches and validation and verification processes, Mission Analysis, Mission Engineering and System Engineering, including flight dynamics, safety range and launcher performance and Ground Segment Systems, including Command and Control Center, Ground Support Equipment, ranging systems and ground stations.
Orbex CEO Chris Larmour says Orbex’s partnership with Elecnor demonstrates technological maturity. “We have achieved a milestone in business maturity.”
He says the joint venture will help to maintain accelerated pace of development, incorporate tried-and-tested critical launch systems from Elecnor ranging from navigation to ground and mission control systems.
The small satellite launch market is projected to grow to around US$60 billion between 2018 and 2030, with a strong shift towards more international satellite operators.
More than 30 commercial space groups are currently working to build small satellite constellations, with almost 12,000 satellites expected to be launched by 2030. Each satellite has a life expectancy of three to five years, creating a strong ongoing demand for upgrade and replenishment.
Space analysts say with latest initiatives by Orbex, small global satellites can access a new class of launch service designed exclusively to cater to their space needs.
“There is a quiet revolution taking place, thanks to small satellites,” said Orbex’s Chairman Bart Markus. “Small satellites are now able to perform a huge range of tasks at very low cost, making them a smart choice for satellite operators both commercially and logistically,” he added.
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