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Moray firm sponsors rocket science contest

By Lorna Thompson

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A FORRES firm is to be title sponsor of a national rocket science competition for students.

Spaceflight company Orbex, based at the town's enterprise park, will sponsor the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) National Rocketry Championship for 2020-21.

The competition will be titled the UKSEDS Orbex National Rocketry Championship. UKSEDS is the country’s student space society.

The contest will include a new category to encourage gender diversity in the space industry.

Teams will be challenged to design, build and launch a mid-power rocket with the primary goal of reaching the greatest apogee possible.

The Orbex sponsorship offers funding to all teams entering the competition and full sponsorship to any team that consists of at least 50 per cent women or non-binary members, the goal being to encourage wider participation in launch vehicle design and development.

Orbex headquarters at Forres Enterprise Park. Picture: Michal Wachucik.
Orbex headquarters at Forres Enterprise Park. Picture: Michal Wachucik.

Chris Larmour, Orbex chief executive, said: "We really value hands-on experience, and there's no better way to gain that in rocketry than by building and launching your own rockets.

"Partnering with UKSEDS allows us to get involved with all of the student groups working on this technology and hopefully build useful connections for future rocket engineers working on our orbital launch vehicles, which are intended to launch from Sutherland in Scotland."

Zaria Serfontein, of UKSEDS, said: "We’re very excited to be partnering with Orbex on the National Rocketry Championship 2020-2021. Their support will allow us to enhance participation, both improving accessibility and providing the best possible experience for the students."

Some 28 teams have entered the competition, with finals expected to be held in July.

Orbex will invite the winning teams to join a test firing of Orbex’s main stage rocket engine.

Last month Orbex announced private investment of £18 million – which could see more than 200 jobs created in Moray and the north.

The funding from investment company BGF and venture capitalists Octopus Ventures will see the company through to its first launch from Sutherland spaceport in 2022.

Orbex is also planning a new 5000sq m headquarters and production facility in Forres.

See: £18million investment in Forres-based Orbex to create more than 200 jobs in the Moray and Highland area

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