Orbex is building Prime, a commercial orbital rocket, of an optimized blend of lightweight carbon-fiber and aluminum composites, making the rocket up to 30 percent lighter than other rockets of its size.
Orbex has big plans for the next few years, including small-satellite launches from an as-yet-unbuilt spaceport and launching a dedicated ride-share mission in 2022 for a new client, TriSept. The key to achieving these lofty goals is Orbex’s Prime, an orbital rocket fashioned of an optimized blend of carbon fiber and aluminum composites.
Orbex installed a high-speed carbon-fiber-winding machine at its headquarters in Scotland. Company officials explained, “This 18-meter-long machine automates the rapid weaving of intricate mixes of materials to build the main rocket structures.” A full-sized autoclave was also installed, creating the ability to process large rocket parts, such as main stage fuel tanks, that are ready to weather the extreme environment in space, including tolerating massive pressures of up to 500 times atmospheric pressure.