Space factory startup aims for first UK launch
By Nick Flaherty
Startup Space Forge is aiming to launch the first satellite from the UK later this year.
The company is developing a re-usable satellite that can be used to build materials in microgravity in orbit and return it to Earth safely.
The ForgeStar satellite will be launched as part of a joint UK-US mission with Virgin Orbit to open the country’s first domestic spaceport in summer 2022 from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay. This will use a launcher mounted on a Boeing 747 taking off from a traditional runway.
ForgeStar can also be deployed from conventional launchers, and the first launch will be used to test the return from space technology. This includes Aether, a predictive analytic tool that is ten times better at providing satellite and space body re-entry landing locations. The company is also working with EDA vendor Ansys on modelling tools.
“We’re thrilled to be making UK history with our first launch,” said Joshua Western, CEO of Space Forge. “We will demonstrate the use of space for good through in-space manufacturing and reliable return and it’s brilliant that both Virgin Orbit and Spaceport Cornwall share our ambitions. This is the start of a great collaboration and we are so excited to see where it goes.”
“We at Virgin Orbit are delighted to have been chosen to move Space Forge forward in their space journey as we look forward to our inaugural Cornwall launch. Space Forge is joining the growing community of space innovators advancing space technologies for the betterment of our world. Their commitment to sustainability builds a foundation for future growth in the industry that we at Virgin Orbit are proud to be part of,” said Dan Hart, CE of Virgin Orbit.