Cardiff-based startup, Space Forge, has taken the next step toward delivering their first launch to take place in 2022 with the opening of their new facilities.
Accelerating the Welsh space industry and helping place the UK at the forefront of the global smallsat launch market, Space Forge are on a mission to make space work for humanity – leading the clean industrial revolution by harnessing the power of microgravity. The company recently announced that, along with partners, they are developing a world-first service that incorporates both launch and return of a new small class of vehicle – the ForgeStar – that can be deployed from conventional launchers to provide rapid, reliable and reusable in-space infrastructure.
This returnable service, which will enable microgravity on demand, has been awarded a two-year contract, through the European Space Agency’s Boost! Commercial Space Transportation Services Program, which is supported by the UK Space Agency, worth €2 million. This will cover the preliminary and detailed design phases, as well as the launch, in-orbit operation and return of the first operational ForgeStar demonstration vehicle.
Following this announcement, Space Forge are ramping up launch preparations – unveiling their operational facilities. The site, based at Eastgate Business Park in Cardiff, currently employs 22 people – with the team growing from two in just 16 months. Space Forge is looking to expand further, creating another ten job roles within the next six to eight months – catering for the evolution of their technologies and the UK market.
The facilities, the first of their kind in Wales, include a state of the art clean room, where the payload integration and deployment will take place. This will also be the home of the continued development and testing of the world-first returnable technologies which, alongside the ForgeStar 1, include the Aether prediction system for providing accurate satellite and spacecraft re-entry landing locations that will create the reusable launch service.
The opening of the facilities is the next step in the company’s development as they pioneer the way to unlocking microgravity for the benefit of humanity and lead the growth of the in-space manufacturing industry, which was identified as one of the key emerging sectors in the recently released UK Space Strategy.
Space Forge has recognized the huge market potential for this service, with demand currently not being met due to no dedicated platform, no soft return and a heavy reliance on the International Space Station. Space Forge’s dedicated solution – a low-cost, independent, reusable space vehicle able to perform scalable in-orbit manufacturing – will enable the production of new materials for a new earth age.
Andrew Bacon, Co-Founder and Chief Designer, said, “This is an important day for Space in the UK - direct from the heart of Wales. We’re thrilled to be able to take this next step in our journey. We’re proud to have grown our team rapidly to continue the maturation of our technology and these facilities are the foundations for our first launch next year. We look forward to leading the growth of the huge in-space manufacturing market from here in Cardiff.”
Welsh Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said, “It’s great to see Space Forge open its fantastic new satellite manufacturing facility. I’m very pleased the Welsh Government has been able to provide support to the company to help them reach this important milestone on their journey to orbit. Earlier this week, I set out my ambition of creating a Welsh economy where more people feel confident about planning their future in Wales. Space Forge is a great example of the type of company we want to see growing here, helping us realize our ambitions of moving the Welsh economy forward by creating a stronger, fairer, greener economic future. In Wales, we have a strong track record of delivering high value manufacturing and innovation, creating high quality jobs in our communities. This puts the vibrant cluster of space industry leaders, such as Space Forge, in a prime position to flourish. We’re playing a significant part in supporting the ambition for the UK to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world. The Welsh Government fully backs this ambition.”