09 February 2021 Community news

Norfolk company targets suborbital market

Image: Raptor Aerospace
Image: Raptor Aerospace

A space engineering company based in rural Norfolk in the UK is currently building a new generation of rockets intended to fuel a revolution in low-cost access to space. The focus from Raptor Aerospace is on reforming the suborbital spaceflight market by providing short-duration access to space environments.

This kind of space access has traditionally been used by scientific researchers in order to collect data and carry out experiments in space. Raptor plans to enable a new responsive, local and cost-effective approach to this market, as well as additionally supporting the NewSpace surge as part of the supply chain for the high-growth area of small satellite manufacture and testing.

Raptor Aerospace spotted a gap in the market around providing the ability to verify products and sub-systems in space to see how they react, before they are ultimately launched into orbit, a step in the development process that until now has never been readily available in the UK.

CEO Ben Jarvis stated: "There is a high failure rate of small nanosatellites, which disappoints scientists and investors alike. Verifying these either as components or complete units in space, and getting them back again prior to launching to orbit could significantly reduce the failures in space, and in turn this leads to lower levels of space debris.”

Raptor believes that the provision of short duration space access will enable commercial space companies to de-risk components, increase technology readiness levels, demonstrate technology and save fortunes in failures in orbit. Along with rocket launches for system testing, the company is also set to provide dedicated microgravity access with applications in the field of medicine, agriculture, energy or space science.

To support its activity, Raptor has developed a rocket engine test-site that utilises environmentally-friendly propellants and an innovative engine that has proved to be much cleaner than existing solid fuel motors currently used in the suborbital market that typically emit hydrochloric acid and aluminium derivatives.

With a host of lower altitude launches already achieved, the company plans to launch its latest developmental rocket from a UK spaceport later this year, with commercial operations of a space-capable launch vehicle expected to start in 2022.

The company was established in 2018 to provide microgravity and short duration space testing solutions that put the customer first; placing convenience, proximity and reduced cost at the heart of what we do. It is based at Scottow Enterprise Park in Norfolk, formerly RAF Coltishall.

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