MOTIVE DELIVERS STELLAR SOLUTION FOR ORBEX PRIME SPACE PROJECT
Proud to partner with orbital launch services company Orbex, headquartered in Forres, this project began in 2021 and marked Motive’s first major involvement in the aerospace industry, perfectly demonstrating the versatile nature of Motive Engineering capabilities.
Launch and Test Platform
Tower Assembly (Strongback)
Assembly and Testing
Motive Offshore Group secured a contract with Orbex for the manufacture of a dedicated Launch and Test Platform (Orbex LP1) and Tower Assembly (Strongback) to be used during the testing of Orbex Prime - the first full-scale microlauncher rocket developed in Europe.
THE LAUNCH AND TEST PLATFORM (Orbex LP1)
Orbex approached Motive having already worked together on some minor machining work scopes. The initial requirement was to manufacture a suitable Launch and Test Platform to accommodate the Orbex Prime microlauncher, this was to be the first platform of its kind to be built in the UK in over 50 years.
Built in 8 weeks, the challenge in creating this unique and sizeable structure, weighing 40Te, lay not only in the scale of the build but in the requirement for the static platform to incorporate an actuated tilting function, enabling access to safely install the microlauncher from the ground and raise it into position on the launchpad.
The Launch and Test Platform was built with full capability to launch an orbital rocket and will facilitate a variety of pre-launch testing activities including the testing of the main propellant tanks and multi-engine hot fire testing under vertical firing conditions.
TRUSTED PRECISION ENGINEERING
With a fixed platform frame, the tilt platform actuates from the horizontal to the vertical via two hydraulic cylinders connected to the main frame and uses an inbuilt control panel and power pack. The build involved heavy fabrication and required careful weld management, with only a 40mm clearance at some pivot points, leaving no room for error. It was critical for every element to be fabricated exactly to deliver a final product that would work, and could guarantee the required flexibility and stability.
The Launch and Test Platform is fully modular, with the tilt platform able to separate from its frame, and each can be dismantled into smaller sections allowing easy transportation and reassembly.
Operational and functional testing was achieved successfully - without any rework requirements - first time by the Motive Engineering team.
On manufacture completion, a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was carried out and witnessed by Orbex Representatives at the Motive Base in Boyndie. This involved a complete test build and function test, fully demonstrating the platform in action.
THE TOWER ASSEMBLY (STRONGBACK)
Orbex also commissioned Motive to design and build a Tower Assembly (Strongback). This was turned around by Motive in a short timeframe.
This structure, weighing approx. 3.5Te, was fitted onto the Launch and Test Platform when complete.
Motive has an excellent track record in Project Management, always working to clear schedules, and ensuring clients remain well-informed throughout the duration of any project. Our Engineering team worked closely with Orbex throughout the design process, providing regular reports and visual progress updates during manufacture.
Motive provided a complete project management service, taking care of all police escort and delivery arrangements, and supplying experienced personnel to reassemble both structures at the Orbex Kinloss base, complete with Site Integration Testing (SIT).
Working on the Orbex project from concept, through manufacture, assembly, and testing of the Launch Platform at Kinloss, was tremendously interesting and exciting for the Motive team.
Diversification into Aerospace was not something we had on our radar but working with the Orbex team throughout the project gave us an unexpected and hugely satisfying experience.
We’ll follow with great interest the testing programme and hopefully be able to witness the first launch. One of Motive’s past taglines: ‘…to the back deck and beyond’, took on a whole new meaning when we had the great privilege of working with Orbex.
- Ben Coutts, Engineering Division Managing Director @ Motive Offshore Group
On the road – the Orbex rocket launch platform captured on its 80-mile journey to the test site. Video courtesy of Orbex.
The ability for our engineers to test Prime on its own launchpad is a major advancement on the roadmap to launch, and we are happy to have constructed this major piece of infrastructure with Motive Offshore, a partner which has a very strong track record in other relevant industries.
- Chris Larmour, CEO @ Orbex
About Orbex Prime
One of the most environmentally sustainable rockets ever constructed, the low carbon, high performance micro-launcher ‘Orbex Prime’ is reusable and powered by a renewable biofuel. Built from state-of-the-art carbon fibre structures and tanks, and with fully 3D-printed engines, Orbex Prime will enable the transportation of small satellites weighing around 150kg to low Earth orbit.
In May 2022, Orbex unveiled the first full-scale prototype of the Prime orbital space rocket on its dedicated launch pad publicly for the first time. The launch pad at the Orbex test site in Kinloss will allow for full ‘dress rehearsals’ of launch procedures ahead of its first launch which will take place from Orbex’s home spaceport in Sutherland.
Visit the Orbex website to learn more and see some out-of-this-world footage of Orbex Prime.