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Innovative Low-Mass Tanks for a Low-Cost European Micro-Launch Vehicle

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OrbEx (Innovative Low-Mass Tanks for a Low-Cost European Micro-Launch Vehicle)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2017-07-31

Orbex is constructing a two-stage-to-orbit vertical micro-launch vehicle named Prime. Prime will use a new kind of coaxial tank solution to reduce vehicle mass by as much as 30% over traditional designs.

The objectives of this SME Instrument Phase 1 feasibility study were to build on prototyping of this innovative concept, to explore the feasibility of realizing the tank concept using composite materials.

We assessed whether:-

• this project is technically possible, without requiring export-controlled technology from overseas, using European materials suppliers and EU partners;

• how it could be implemented in subsequent development and volume production steps leading to a highly differentiated, low cost, micro-launcher capable of launch from mainland Europe.
We identified candidate materials and identified two potential EU-based material suppliers, beginning dialogues with both.

We entered into more advanced discussion with one supplier, under NDA, to select materials to support prototyping.

In parallel we identified a prototype manufacturing partner in the UK, and we intend to proceed to a demonstration article with this partner.

We intend to apply for an SME Instrument Phase 2 award to support this activity.
This project has helped us find new partners with the skills and expertise to help us realize our core design capabilities within Europe.

This allows the development of a unique new technical capability in Europe, which is currently patent pending, and which opens options for a range of new patents flowing from this core IPR.

This will allow a lower cost access to space from mainland Europe, and the development of a small satellite launch industry generating around €1.1B in Economic benefits over the decade 2020-2030.
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