Welsh satellite company set to launch robotic factory from Cornish spaceport
A Welsh satellite company is to test-launch a mini robotic factory from a Cornish spaceport this summer.
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.
The aim is to see whether reusable satellites that can manufacture technology in space can be launched into orbit and then return to earth when they are no longer useful.
In space, there is no gravity, it’s a pure vacuum and extreme temperature changes can be achieved by harnessing the power of the Sun, and therefore technology could be manufactured with just a quarter of emissions of a similar process on earth.
The launch this summer will be a test to see whether the satellites, called ForgeStar orbital vehicle, can safely return to earth once their work is done.
Space Forge’s CEO and co-founder Joshua Western told The Manufacturer that the idea was not new but they needed to provide the technology to make it happen.
“The lack of infrastructure available in space today (only the International Space Station being routinely available) means that there’s no way to scale the impact producing impossible materials in space can have on Earth,” he said.
“We saw that if you could provide both scalable platforms to produce these materials, and a way to bring them home, you could have an enormous positive impact on industry back on Earth.
“We’ve identified niche materials for markets ranging from telecommunications to renewable energy. Our goal is to be the world’s first truly carbon negative space company.”
Space Forge previously secured £7.6m of EU money as also in partnership with the Welsh Government and the UK Space Agency.
Virgin Orbit, based near Los Angeles, have been in discussions with the UK Government about using Newquay’s Spaceport Cornwall for satellite launches.
The spaceport could provide an alternative for companies now unable to use the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan due to the war in Ukraine.
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