Highland jobs rise as spaceflight company Orbex creates 50 jobs ahead of rocket launch countdown that paves way for Space Hub Sutherland boost

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The facility allows full “dress rehearsals” of rocket launches at Kinloss, located a few miles from Orbex’s headquarters in Forres.

Launch services company Orbex is hiring 50 more staff over the next six months to support the company’s final effort to prepare for the first vertical rocket launch from UK soil in the coming months.

Many of the new roles will support “integrated testing” of the complete rocket at the Orbex LP1 Launch Platform Test Facility at Kinloss.

The facility allows full “dress rehearsals” of rocket launches at Kinloss, located a few miles from Orbex’s headquarters in Forres.

The new roles will also strengthen existing teams responsible for key areas of rocket development, including propulsion, structures, avionics, CNC machining and on-board software. Other recruitment areas will facilitate communications between ground personnel and the rocket in flight, covering areas such as GNC (guidance, navigation and control) systems, sensors, data capture, ground segment software and radio engineering.

Related: Highland space sector opportunities chewed up for breakfast

WATCH: Orbex reveals set of rocket launchers for use in Sutherland

Fifteen of the new roles will be non-technical positions, providing a wide range of people with new training or retraining opportunities for a career in the UK and European space sector. These positions require no previous space or aerospace industry experience and cover areas such as logistics, finance and purchasing.

Orbex recently unveiled the complete rocket in its final form, making it the first complete orbital micro-launcher to be unveiled in Europe. The innovative Orbex Prime rocket will be the first orbital rocket to be powered by a renewable biofuel, biopropane, which will reduce carbon emissions by up to 96%.

Sustainability credentials extend to the company’s “home” spaceport, Sutherland Space Center on the north coast of Scotland, which aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceport. Prime is a “micro-launcher” rocket designed to carry small satellites weighing around 150 kg into low Earth orbit.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish Government Employment Minister: “These jobs will bring us closer to achieving our ambition of 20,000 jobs in the Scottish space sector by 2030. Orbex brings high-value jobs to Moray while inspiring the study of science and engineering – which will help create future rocket scientists. Companies like Orbex are essential to achieving the goals of our new National Economic Transformation Strategy that will support a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

David Oxley, Director of Strategic Projects, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “This is great news for Orbex and for the Highlands and Islands. The Scottish space sector is on track for serious growth over the next few years and the economic benefits to our region will be significant. We are rapidly approaching the time when Scottish-made satellites will be launched into low Earth orbit from Scottish spaceports, using rockets designed and manufactured in Scotland. This vision would have seemed far-fetched just a few years ago, and Orbex is playing a major role in making it a reality.”

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex: “We have already tripled the size of our team in the last twelve months. And now the roles we are recruiting for are the clearest demonstration that we are in the final countdown to launch from British soil. There’s no better time to join Orbex – we have a few extremely exciting years ahead of us and we encourage people to learn more about the roles we offer.

What is Orbex?

Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with head office, production and test facilities in Scotland and design and test facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional experience with NASA, ESA, Ariane and several commercial spaceflight organizations. The company is now backed by two of the UK’s largest and most active venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, joining two of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and High-Tech Gründerfonds , as well as strategic investor Elecnor, parent company of Deimos Space, the British Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

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