‘World’s most environmentally friendly’ ROCKET is being built in Scotland: Orbex Prime runs on biofuel and produces up to 96% less emissions than fossil fuel-powered vehicles 

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  • Orbex Prime is billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly rocket
  • It emits up to 96 percent less emissions than fossil fuel-powered vehicles
  • Designed to be reusable and does not leave debris on land, oceans or the atmosphere
  • Prime rocket launches from space hub Sutherland in the north of Scotland

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It has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly rocket.

Running on biofuels and producing 96 percent fewer emissions than fossil fuel-powered vehicles, the Orbex Prime is designed to be reusable and does not release debris on land, oceans or the atmosphere .

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Not only this, it is being made right here in the UK.

When this is finished, the plan is to launch Prime from space hub Sutherland by the end of 2022, a £17.9 million carbon-neutral spaceport being built in the Scottish Highlands.

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Running on biofuels and emitting 96 percent less than fossil fuel-powered vehicles, the Orbex Prime is billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly rocket

It is designed to be reusable and does not leave debris on land, oceans or the atmosphere.  The rocket is built with the world's largest 3D printed rocket engine (pictured)

It is designed to be reusable and does not leave debris on land, oceans or the atmosphere. The rocket is built with the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine (pictured)

Britain’s first spaceport will support 12 orbital launches per year

The UK Space Agency has selected Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland as the site for Britain’s first spaceport.

The site is being developed by US aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin.

It will launch satellites and rockets into space in early 2021.

The port will boost Scotland’s already growing satellite industry.

Outside the US, Scotland produces more satellites than any other country.

It is hoped that the UK will launch an estimated 2,000 satellites by 2030.

The Sutherland project is under pressure from similar bids in Scandinavia.

The first northern European site to offer a commercial launch is set to hold a stake in the billion-dollar global space industry.

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A new study by the University of Exeter calculated that a single Orbex prime launch would produce 86 percent fewer emissions than a vertical launch vehicle of a similar size and 96 percent less than a rocket launched horizontally from a carrier aircraft.

This gap in emissions is mainly due to a similarly sized vehicle emitting high levels of black carbon, particulate matter created by incomplete combustion of carbon-rich fuels.

It is a major contributor to climate change when emitted from rocket engines into the stratosphere.

At the moment, the number of rocket flights is very small. For example, throughout 2020, according to NASA, there were 114 attempted orbital launches in the world.

This compares to an average of over 100,000 flights a day in the airline industry.

But emissions from rockets are emitted into the upper atmosphere, meaning they stay there for two to three years.

“Orbex will be the first commercial orbital space launch company to use renewable, carbon-friendly fuels,” said Orbex CEO Chris Larmore.

‘We believe it is time to move away from the use of heavily polluting fossil fuels, as more efficient, sustainable alternatives are readily available, and we expect very strict regulations to be in place.

‘As the world prepares to attend the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, we have already moved decisively towards a completely sustainable solution that replaces the massive carbon emissions of old-fashioned fossil fuel launch solutions. Profile is avoided.’

Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and test facilities in Scotland, and design and test operations in Denmark.

Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and test facilities in Scotland, and design and test operations in Denmark.

Orbex said the rocket's carbon footprint was equal to the average emissions produced by a person in the UK each year, which is 12.7 tonnes of CO2e.

Orbex said the rocket’s carbon footprint was equal to the average emissions produced by a person in the UK each year, which is 12.7 tonnes of CO2e.

Lift off: Plans are to launch Prime from space hub Sutherland (pictured) by the end of 2022, a £17.9 million carbon-neutral spaceport being built in the Scottish Highlands

Lift off: Plans are to launch Prime from space hub Sutherland (pictured) by the end of 2022, a £17.9 million carbon-neutral spaceport being built in the Scottish Highlands

Highlands and Islands Enterprise plans to build a launch site on peatlands on the Moeen Peninsula near Tongue in the Scottish Highlands

Highlands and Islands Enterprise plans to build a launch site on peatlands on the Moeen Peninsula near Tongue in the Scottish Highlands

According to the University of Exeter study, a single launch of the Orbex Prime rocket would result in total emissions of 13.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent – ​​a standard unit for measuring carbon footprint.

This includes direct emissions from launch, indirect emissions created from the production of essential propellant fuels (biopropane and liquid oxygen), and the radiative effects of non-CO2 emissions at high altitudes.

Orbex said the rocket’s carbon footprint was equal to the average emissions produced by a person in the UK each year, which is 12.7 tonnes of CO2e.

An important factor in why it is more environmentally friendly is the biofuels it uses.

It has a greenhouse gas factor that is 90 percent less than fossil-based fuels like kerosene.

‘The UK space industry has a significant role to play in combating climate change, for example by launching satellites that can monitor environmental changes on Earth – but such benefits must be weighed against the environmental impact of space launch, which that by their nature can be highly carbon intensive,’ said Dr. Xiaoyu Yan of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter.

‘Our study suggests that the planned launch operation by Orbex may result in a significantly lower carbon footprint than the other launch scenarios considered in our analysis.’

Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and test facilities in Scotland, and design and test operations in Denmark.

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