Space Forge zero-gravity manufacturing gets funding boost

Wales-based company aims to create platform that can manufacture alloys and semiconductors in zero gravity

British minister James Cartlidge meets the Space Forge team after the company was awarded £500,000 to help boost the UK's defence industry. MOD/X
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A British space start-up has been awarded about £500,000 by the UK government as the country looks to boost its defence industry with “space-age” technology.

Space Forge, based in south Wales, aims to create an innovative in-space manufacturing platform, one which can create alloys and semiconductors in zero gravity before parachuting them back to Earth.

Earlier this year, the aerospace company, alongside Virgin Orbit, attempted the UK's first launch of an orbital satellite from its shores, but this was delayed due to an "anomaly".

Space Forge’s innovative technology could “revolutionise” UK military supply chains as they deliver for its armed forces, the UK's Ministry of Defence said.

Materials manufactured in space are especially pure because of access to extreme temperatures and lack of contamination.

The Defence Ministry believes that the start-up's mini space factory can be used to improve Britain's defence technology, including for radar and frontline battlefield communications.

The award is part of a collaboration with Northrop Grumman under the Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP), a programme for small and medium enterprises that have been earmarked to potentially improve defence supply chains.

The initiative aims to “inspire companies to win new business, develop industrial capabilities and provide new cutting-edge answers to defence problems at home and abroad”.

It also says the investment can produce highly skilled jobs to the local community and support Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's promise to economically “level-up” regions outside London.

Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge said the work taking place at Space Forge would allow the UK's military capabilities to remain at the forefront of technological innovation.

Joshua Western, chief executive and co-founder of Space Forge, described the partnership as “incredibly exciting” and an important step in demonstrating the utility of in-space manufacturing.

“National security is shared security and this Atlantic partnership is a keystone in building new capabilities and prosperity”, he said.

Updated: November 07, 2023, 12:19 PM