First Prototype Factory That Can Produce Material Impossible To Produce On Earth

First Prototype Factory That Can Produce Material Impossible To Produce On Earth

By Samantha Jones-

A prototype type space factory that can produce materials impossible to make on Earth will be on the first rocket to launch from UK soil later this summer.

Space Forge, a Welsh startup, will make more efficient semiconductors and stronger, lighter alloys. These materials, which could apparently be in widespread use within the decade, will be produced once the satellite has launched from Spaceport Cornwall in September..

The prototype space factory capable of producing materials impossible to make on Earth, will be on the first rocket to launch from UK soil later this summer.

Welsh startup Space Forge will use microgravity and the vacuum of space to make stronger, lighter metal alloys and super-efficient semiconductors.

The company plans to launch a satellite on a rocket due to lift off from Spaceport Cornwall in September.

The spaceport, the first in Europe, is based at Newquay Airport.

A Virgin Orbit Boeing 747 will take off from the same runway used by holiday jets, carry a rocket under its wing and release it at 35,000ft.

Andrew Bacon, a co-founder of Space Forge, said the launch will turn the UK into a “true space superpower”, with the ability to make and deploy world-leading satellite technology..
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“The price of launch has come down massively,” he said. “Typically it used to cost $20,000 (£16,500) per kilogram. These days you can get as low as $1,000 (£830).

“There are materials out there worth way more. Nickel-based alloys used in aircraft turbines can cost $100,000 a kg. So the economics (of space manufacturing) start to work because the price of launch has come down so much.”

Although other companies have made small amounts of material and returned them to Earth, Space Forge will be the first to make them in commercial quantities.

The whole satellite will be brought down using still-secret technology, then refurbished and relaunched with a new batch of raw materials on board.

“Being able to launch from your home country is going to make a big difference,” said Mr Bacon.

“If you want to build a reliable, sustainable supply chain based in space, you can’t be flying to the other side of the world to source your materials when you want to make something.

“You want to launch and return here and use those products where they are needed.”

Welsh startup Space Forge will use microgravity and the vacuum of space to make stronger, lighter metal alloys and super-efficient semiconductors.

The company told Sky News that components made in orbit could be in widespread use in as little as five years, in everything from aircraft engines to the electricity grid.

To test its plan for bringing materials back to Earth, the company will launch a satellite on a rocket due to lift off from Spaceport Cornwall in September.

otype space factory that can produce materials impossible to make on Earth will be on the first rocket to launch from UK soil later this summer.

Welsh startup Space Forge will use microgravity and the vacuum of space to make stronger, lighter metal alloys and super-efficient semiconductors.

To test its plan for bringing materials back to Earth, the company will launch a satellite on a rocket due to lift off from Spaceport Cornwall in September.

The spaceport, the first in Europe, is based at Newquay Airport.

“There are materials out there worth way more. Nickel-based alloys used in aircraft turbines can cost $100,000 a kg. So the economics (of space manufacturing) start to work because the price of launch has come down so much.”

A rocket is carried under the wing of an aircraft before being released
Image:A rocket is carried under the wing of an aircraft before being released

Although other companies have made small amounts of material and returned them to Earth, Space Forge will be the first to make them in commercial quantities.

The  satellite will be brought down using still-secret technology, then refurbished and relaunched with a new batch of raw materials on board.

“Being able to launch from your home country is going to make a big difference,” said Mr Bacon.

“If you want to build a reliable, sustainable supply chain based in space, you can’t be flying to the other side of the world to source your materials when you want to make something.

“You want to launch and return here and use those products where they are needed.”

A Virgin Orbit Boeing 747 will take off from the same runway used by holiday jets, carry a rocket under its wing and release it at 35,000ft.

“The price of launch has come down massively,” he said. “Typically it used to cost $20,000 (£16,500) per kilogram. These days you can get as low as $1,000 (£830).

“There are materials out there worth way more. Nickel-based alloys used in aircraft turbines can cost $100,000 a kg. So the economics (of space manufacturing) start to work because the price of launch has come down so much.”

Although other companies have made small amounts of material and returned them to Earth, Space Forge will be the first to make them in commercial quantities.

The whole satellite will be brought down using still-secret technology, then refurbished and relaunched with a new batch of raw materials on board.

“Being able to launch from your home country is going to make a big difference,” said Mr Bacon.

“If you want to build a reliable, sustainable supply chain based in space, you can’t be flying to the other side of the world to source your materials when you want to make something.

“You want to launch and return here and use those products where they are needed.”

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