Space technology firm Orbex has unveiled what is thought to be the world’s most ‘environmentally friendly’ rocket.
The Scottish firm’s space rocket, known as Prime, will emit be up to 96 per cent less emissions than comparable space launch programmes, according to a new study by Exeter University.
The rocket uses a renewable, ‘ultra-low-carbon’ fuel, and has also been designed to be reusable – leaving no debris on Earth, oceans or in the atmosphere.
With plans to launch the rocket from Sutherland’s spaceport, one of seven in planning in the UK, Orbex is set to be the first space-tech company to use the renewable, and less carbon-heavy fuel, its CEO Chris Larmour said.
“We believe it is time to move away from the use of heavily polluting fossil fuels now that more efficient, sustainable alternatives are readily available, and we hope to see much tighter regulations coming into force,” he added.
“As the world prepares to attend the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, we have already moved decisively to a fully sustainable solution that avoids the massive carbon emissions profiles of old-fashioned fossil fuelled launch solutions.”
The fuel brings good news to the new frontier, as the UK looks to capitalise on its blossoming space sector.
There have been concerns that the country’s space efforts are not aligned with the government’s net zero plans – with just 120 space launches producing the same amount of carbon emissions as the entire global aviation industry, the study added.
Though Dr Xiaoyu Yan of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter, explained that the industry can actually help combat climate change.
“The UK space industry has a key role to play in combating climate change, for example by launching satellites that can monitor environmental changes on Earth – but such benefits must be weighed against the environmental impact of space launches, which by their nature can be highly carbon intensive,” he said.