Scottish space rocket to fly on biofuel with 96% smaller carbon footprint

October 21, 2021 |

In Scotland, carbon footprint of launching the new Orbex Prime space rocket will be up to 96 per cent lower than comparable space launch programs, a new scientific study has revealed.

Prime is poised to become one of the most environmentally friendly orbital launch vehicles ever built, benefiting from the use of renewable, ultra-low-carbon biofuel. It is also designed to be reusable and will not leave any debris on Earth, in the Earth´s oceans, or in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Orbex is also committing to offsetting all emissions from the rocket and its launch operations, ensuring every launch is carbon neutral. Orbex plans to launch Prime from Space Hub Sutherland, the carbon-neutral Spaceport in the North of Scotland.

The new study by the University of Exeter calculated that a single Orbex Prime launch would produce up to 86 per cent less emissions than a similar-sized vertical launch vehicle powered by fossil fuels. This gulf in emissions is primarily due to the similar-sized vehicle emitting high levels of black carbon, the particulate matter formed by the incomplete combustion of fuels containing carbon – and a major contributor to climate change when emitted from rocket engines into the stratosphere.

The study also compared the carbon footprint of launching Prime with that of a rocket that is horizontally launched from a carrier aircraft. In this comparison, the direct launch emissions required by Prime was as much as 96 per cent lower than the horizontally launched vehicle.

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Category: Fuels

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