British Rocketmaker Orbex Unveils Prototype of Small-Satellite Launcher

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FORRES, SCOTLAND — Orbex, a United Kingdom-based rocket startup, just unveiled part of its new Prime small-satellite launcher, which the company hopes will be lofting spacecraft into low-Earth orbit from the north of Scotland at a rate of one a month by the mid-2020s. 

At a Feb. 7 event here at Orbex's base, company representatives showed off the completed engineering prototype of the two-stage Prime's upper stage, which is made of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum composites and features the world's largest 3D-printed rocket engine. 

This engine uses biopropane as a fuel along with liquid oxygen; it produces 90 percent fewer CO2 emissions compared to conventional hydrocarbon fuel-fired rockets, company representatives said. [The Effects of Global Warming]

"The use of biopropane gives us some really unique options," Orbex Chief Technology Officer Jonas B. Bjarnø, who previously worked on a plethora of high-profile international
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