As we venture deeper into the 21st century, the quest to explore and utilize space has taken centre stage in global technological advancements.
Europe, in particular, is set to bolster its position in the cosmic theatre. Recognizing the potential of the next big tech boom in the offing, Europe is channelling more efforts towards expanding its launch capabilities. The continent has much catching up to do when it comes to launch capabilities. Earlier this year, a panel commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) warned that Europe is at risk of missing out on the next big tech boom unless it channels more funds towards its space industry.
Europe’s sole operational launch provider, Arianespace, has moved to bridge this gap. The company has signed memorandums of understanding with two ambitious rocket startups: Orbex, a UK-based company, and PLD Space from Spain.
These new agreements could significantly boost Europe’s space sector and help address serious concerns regarding its launch capabilities.
Revolutionizing Space Travel with Innovative Technologies
Founded in 2015, Orbex has quickly become Europe’s leading orbital launch services company, serving the needs of the small satellite industry.
The company has developed one of the world’s most advanced, low-carbon, high-performance micro-launch vehicles, known as Orbex Prime. This rocket employs various advanced materials and techniques, including 3D-printed engines, carbon fibre structures, and tanks.
Orbex Prime is powered by a renewable fuel, bio-propane, which significantly reduces carbon emissions compared to other rockets, marking a remarkable feat of engineering from the British rocket company.
On the other hand, PLD Space is on the verge of launching a reusable suborbital rocket, Miura 1, from the southern coast of Spain. This rocket will test technologies that will eventually be used on its orbital Miura 5 rocket, which is expected to launch soon1.
The Future of European Space Exploration
Arianespace hopes to bridge a gap in the European space industry with these two new agreements. The company’s next-generation rocket, Ariane 6, has faced numerous delays, and it’s not expected to fly until next year. Coupled with the fact that it’s not designed to be partly reusable like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the need for other launch providers like Orbex and PLD Space is more important than ever.
Orbex and PLD Space will start providing small satellite launch services soon. Orbex, for instance, began construction of the Sutherland Spaceport on the north coast of Scotland in May, intending to launch 12 times per year from the facility.
This partnership is a significant step towards Europe’s participation in the growing space industry. With the development of innovative technologies and the promise of more flexible, reliable, and dedicated orbital launch services, companies like Orbex are propelling Europe into the new space race.
TL;DR Bullet Point Summary:
- Europe strives to expand its space launch capabilities to keep up with the global space industry boom.
- Arianespace, Europe’s sole operational launch provider, has signed memorandums of understanding with two ambitious rocket startups, Orbex and PLD Space.
- UK-based Orbex has developed Orbex Prime, one of the world’s most advanced micro-launch vehicles, which uses renewable fuel to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
- Orbex began constructing the Sutherland Spaceport in Scotland, intending to launch 12 rockets yearly.
- These agreements aim to boost Europe’s space sector and provide flexible, reliable, and dedicated orbital launch services for small satellites.