Aberdeenshire firm begins construction of rocket launchpad

CONSTRUCTION of the first orbital space launchpad to be built in the UK for more than half a century has commenced in Kinloss.

Banff-based Motive Offshore Group has been contracted by space firm, Orbex, to fabricate and install the launch platform at a dedicated test site near Kinloss.

The launch platform, known as Orbex LP1, is expected to be fully operational by early 2022 and will support the testing of Orbex’s Prime rocket – which is designed to transport small satellites weighing around 150kg to low earth orbit.

Motive Offshore Group is described by Orbex as having a ‘rich heritage’ in the design and manufacture of bespoke deck and subsea equipment. Its construction of the new launch platform will be comprised of all the infrastructure and supporting services that Orbex said will enable a ‘wide variety’ of integration tests to take place during the launch campaign preparation.

This includes the testing of the main propellant tanks and multi-engine hot fire testing under vertical firing conditions, it will also enable the launch operations team to test launch procedures – including rollout, strongback erection and fuelling procedures in advance of the first expected launch.

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said, “The ability for our engineers to test Prime on its own launchpad is a major advancement on the roadmap to launch, and we are happy to already be constructing this major piece of infrastructure with Motive Offshore, a partner which has a very strong track record in other relevant industries.

“This will be the first launchpad of its kind built in the UK for more than half a century and we look forward to seeing it completed and ready to go into service in the New Year.”

James Gregg, COO at Motive Offshore Group, added,“Motive Offshore Group welcomes the opportunity to work with Orbex on this exciting project. Whilst the Aerospace arena may be new territory for Motive, we are completely focused on the standards and performance required to deliver outstanding custom engineering, so very much look forward to transferring our skills and expertise on this project.”