Scottish space start-up’s international patent set to “challenge the status quo”


Scotland-based orbital launch services company, Orbex, has set a new benchmark in innovating small rocket technology after securing international protection for its coaxial tanking technology.

The patented technology is a testament to Orbex’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of space technology and signifies Scotland’s role as a key player in space innovation and research.

The newly-patented coaxial tank structure allows for a uniquely low mass rocket that is around 30 percent lighter than similarly sized launchers while offering greater power, higher performance, and better economy.

Jonas Bjarnø, Chief Technology Officer at Orbex, said: “When you look at the outside of an Orbex rocket, it looks like any other contemporary carbon fibre rocket. But when you look on the inside you understand that we have created something that is completely unique.

“We set out to deliver a uniquely innovative, efficient and sustainable spaceflight solution and that is exactly what we are now building. This patent is recognition of Orbex’s innovation, it gives us a significant competitive advantage in the global market and demonstrates our ability to challenge the status quo and lead the way towards a more sustainable space industry.”

About the Coaxial Tank

Very small rockets, which copy the traditional `stacked` tank architecture of larger rockets, are less efficient and less cost-effective than their larger counterparts because they carry much less fuel per unit of ‘dry mass’.

The Orbex team created a unique answer to this central inefficiency, by nesting the fuel tank within an outer tank of liquid oxygen. This tank arrangement has unique synergies with Orbex’s choice of bio-propane as a rocket fuel because bio-propane does not freeze solid when chilled to the same temperature as liquid oxygen.

The coaxial tank structure thus removes surplus components and sub-systems such as insulation, extra bulkheads, external pipework, heavy tank walls and thermal conditioning equipment.

The coaxial tank patent protects the technology across more than a dozen countries.

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