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Orbex to launch world's most environmentally friendly rocket

By Ewan Malcolm

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ORBEX is set to launch the world's most environmentally friendly rocket by late 2022.

Prime rocket will launch in late 2022.
Prime rocket will launch in late 2022.

Prime space rocket, which is being manufactured in Forres, will have a carbon footprint that is up to 96 per cent lower than fossil fuelled alternatives.

That's thanks to the use of ultra-low carbon biofuel, a reusable design that will not leave any debris on Earth and also a commitment to offsetting all emissions from the rocket and its launch to ensure it remains carbon neutral.

Orbex plans to launch Prime from carbon neutral spaceport, Space Hub Sutherland.

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said: "Orbex will be the first commercial orbital space launch company to use a renewable, carbon-friendly fuel.

"We believe it is time to move away from the use of heavily polluting fossil fuels now that more efficient, sustainable alternatives are readily available, and we hope to see much tighter regulations coming into force.

"As the world prepares to attend the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, we have already moved decisively to a fully sustainable solution that avoids the massive carbon emissions profiles of old-fashioned fossil fuelled launch solutions."

The study on the rocket was conducted by the University of Exeter.

Dr Xiaoyu Yan of the University of Exeter, added: " Our study shows that the launch operation planned by Orbex can result in a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to the other launch scenarios considered in our analysis."

Orbital space launches using fossil fuels creates a large amount of black carbon, one of the main drivers of climate change, in the upper atmosphere. Annually the amount created by around 120 space launches is equivalent to the black carbon emissions from the entire global aviation industry. Orbex's solution is set to almost entirely eliminate these emissions.

The carbon footprint from Prime is comparable to the average emissions created by one single person in the UK each year.

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