Statement from Orbex CEO Chris Larmour on tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of the launch of Britain’s Black Arrow rocket. 


“Fifty years ago, ‘Black Arrow’ became the first British-made rocket to successfully deliver a satellite (Prospero) into Earth’s orbit, launching from Woomera in Australia on 28 October 1971. It was a landmark day for the British space industry, even though the programme was already in the process of being wound down.


A lot has changed in the industry since then. Unlike half a century ago, environmental responsibility is now top of the agenda, which is why we have designed the Orbex Prime rocket to be powered by renewable, ultra-low-carbon biofuel. We believe it is the most environmentally friendly rocket ever built, with a launch carbon footprint that is likely to be only a fraction of the fossil-fuel-powered Black Arrow.


Orbex Prime is also designed to be commercially as well as environmentally sustainable. The government’s recently announced UK National Space Strategy is relying on privately-owned companies such as Orbex to deliver many of the Strategy’s objectives, in particular the goal to secure a leading share in Europe’s small satellite launch market. We are helping put a new generation of small satellites into orbit, enabling services such as earth observation and internet connectivity.


We believe the UK space industry is therefore a far more viable proposition today than it was when Black Arrow launched 50 years ago. At Orbex, we like to look to the future, not the past – and we can’t wait to start launching a new era of modern British-made rockets from UK soil very soon.”