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Scottish rocket firm Orbex appoints CEO and chair

Phillip Chambers and Miguel Belló Mora, Orbex CEO and executive chair
Phillip Chambers and Miguel Belló Mora. Image credit: Orbex

Orbex has appointed a new CEO and executive chair as it prepares to launch the first vertical rocket from the UK mainland.

Phillip Chambers brings more than two decades of experience scaling technology companies – including Gumtree and Peakon – to the Orbex CEO role.

Miguel Belló Mora joins Orbex as executive chair from the Spanish Space Agency, where he was director general.

The appointments come at the beginning of a pivotal year for Orbex and the UK’s space sector. Private space companies including Orbex and Skyrora are planning to launch the first orbital satellite from British soil.

It comes after Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit failed to reach the required orbit in a landmark flight early last year.

Orbex has secured six commercial satellite launch contracts in anticipation of its rockets and spaceport becoming fully operational.

The Scotland-based orbital launch company is building a 19-metre-long rocket to transport small satellites into low Earth orbit.

It began construction of a vertical launch site in Sutherland, Scotland, last year. When operational, Orbex aims to launch up to 12 rockets from the site per year.

“Orbex’s work is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and after having already invested in the vision, I’m looking forward to focusing all my energy on driving Orbex towards the next phase of growth,” said Chambers, who invested in Orbex’s £40.4m Series C round in 2022.

Orbex is developing renewable biofuel to power its rockets. Last month Orbex secured £3.3m via the UK Space Agency’s contributions to a European Space Agency programme to install equipment to create fuel based from renewable feedstocks.

“I’ve never experienced a more exciting time during my 40 years in the space industry,” said Mora, who was previously the commissioner for the Aesospace Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE).

“Orbex’s ambition to continually drive the industry forward in both technology and green innovation, is unique for the business, and I am pleased to be able to help shape this.”

Read more: UK space tech predictions for 2024