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Welsh satellite company partners with US firm to test new space radiation technology in first launch

27 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Picture by Space Forge

The first launch of a Welsh satellite company will include a test of new space radiation technology.

Space Forge, which is based in Cardiff, will take part in the UK’s first satellite launch in partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit this summer.

The satellite will be shot into orbit from a Virgin jumbo jet taking off from Newquay, Cornwall after they signed an agreement with Richard Branson’s firm.

Now it has been announced that US-based company Cosmic Shielding will send a small sample of their new radiation shielding composite, ‘Plasteel’, along for the ride to confirm the survivability of the composite while exposed to the harsh environment of space.

“This inaugural mission is a big step forward for us and we are excited that we will not only be trialling our own technology but working with Cosmic Shielding to confirm the survivability of Plasteel in space,” said Andrew Bacon, CTO and Co-founder of Space Forge.

“Radiation protection is one of the big challenges for space technology and we are delighted to be using our ForgeStar platforms for research into new solutions.”

‘Very confident’

Virgin Orbit’s carrier aircraft is a modified Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl which launches to 30,000 feet before shooting LauncherOne which contains the satellite from under its wing.

A small sample of 3D printed Plasteel composite will be mounted to ForgeStar-0. Cameras will be used to monitor the sample and look for any degradation over time with a planned duration of at least nine months in low Earth orbit.

As part of this mission, Space Forge will also be testing the deployment of their future low-cost return technology, ready for a re-entry and landing test on the ForgeStar-1 next year.

“Our ultimate goal is to make the space industry more sustainable, cost-effective, and safer, which is why we say we are working to build a better frontier,” said Yanni Barghouty, co-founder and CEO of Cosmic Shielding.

“If we are going to be successful with in-space manufacturing in the future, streamlined logistics are imperative. Having a single, multifunctional composite, like Plasteel, makes building in space or extreme environments much simpler, cheaper, and safer.

“We are very confident that the Plasteel sample will perform well in this initial test with Space Forge and are eager to see the technology in space, which is a very important step in our continued growth towards building entire space structures, like factories in space, from this composite in the future.”

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