Orbex wins Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Grant for Space Launch Vehicle Tanks
Orbex, the UK-based developer of launch vehicles and services for small satellites, has won a prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 SME Instrument award.
The grant was awarded to assist in the development of an innovative space launch vehicle fuel tank architecture developed by Orbex, which reduces the dry mass of launch vehicles by as much as 30% compared to traditional technologies.
“It’s a welcome validation of our innovative, patent-pending structural technology and a confirmation that we are addressing a really significant problem with a globally-relevant market opportunity,” said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex. “Orbex engineers have already developed functional prototypes of the system, complete with cryogenic cooling systems and instrumentation, and we’re confident it works.”
With 2,030 entrants in the cohort, the SME Instrument awards are exceptionally competitive, and only 7 companies across Europe were awarded a space-related grant in the same period. Orbex is one of the first UK space sector companies to win an SME Instrument award.
“This kind of technology is really crucial in vehicles of this class, where every extra kilogram makes a difference to efficiency and performance,” said Kristian von Bengtson, Orbex CTO. “We’ve carefully studied several options and designed a solution that is really elegant and simple to execute, but that also delivers an enormous benefit in terms of mass and complexity reduction.”
The SME Instrument programme is designed to assist internationally-oriented SMEs in implementing high-risk and high-potential innovation ideas. It aims at supporting projects with a European dimension that lead to major changes in how business is done.
Orbex recently announced an investment by one of Europe’s largest VC funds, as well as the existence of a large rocket vehicle production facility that had previously been kept under wraps.