World’s Biggest 3-D Printed Space Rocket Engine – and it’s British

It was announced today that Orbex is to launch nano satellites from the UK Space Centre in Sutherland, North Scotland, using a British 2-stage space rocket with the world’s largest 3-D printed engine.

credit: Orbex

Orbex’s 17-metre tall Prime rocket, is intended to deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit. The two-stage rocket is made from a special carbon fibre and aluminium composite material, as reported in Computing’s daily update. A video description of the polar orbiting nano-satellites is here

credit: Orbex

According to Orbex, Prime launchers are about 20 per cent more efficient and 30 per cent lighter than any other launcher in the small rocket category.

Prime is also the first rocket engine created by a private firm to use bio-propane as fuel. Bio-propane is a renewable, clean-burning fuel, and can cut carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent compared to other fossil hydrocarbon fuels.

The engineering team that designed Prime rocket includes professionals who have worked in the past for NASA, the European Space Agency, and on France’s Ariane rocket project.

Most parts of the Prime rocket are built at Orbex’s production facilities in Germany and Denmark. The assembly of the rocket expected to be launched in 2023 will be completed at Forres before it is transported to A’Mhoine, the rocket launching site currently under construction.

“Plans for a spaceport in Sutherland have already attracted significant investment, and Orbex’s rocket design facility will bring more than 100 new jobs to the Scottish Highlands region – this is our modern Industrial Strategy in action,” claimed business secretary Greg Clark.


Orbex has announced that Swiss-based Astrocast SA, has selected Orbex to launch as many as 10 nanosatellites by 2023 in support of its global Internet of Things (IoT) network.

Astrocast is building a 64 CubeSat IoT network to deliver affordable data communication services to the world’s most remote areas. Designed specifically for IoT, Astrocast’s two-way system allows companies to monitor and control their remote assets, including over-the-air upgrades at lower latency and cost than existing satellite communications networks.


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