Cardiff space tech firm developing reusable satellites gets major funding boost - Business Live

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Space Forge

A space technology start-up firm, which is developing reusable satellites from its Cardiff manufacturing base, has secured a near £2m funding boost.

Space Forge, founded in Bristol in 2018, has received a £1.71m grant from the European Space Agency (ESA) through its Boost! programme – which is supported by the UK Space Agency.

It will support the launch of its ForgeStar Orbital Vehicle (FSOV-1) satellite technology which is currently under development.

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To deliver the project, Space Forge will lead a consortium including Clyde Space, Goonhilly Earth Station, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The funding will also enable it to benefit from ESA’s facilities, technical teams and business networks.

Scheduled for launch next year, the FSOV-1 will test multiple functions including return-to-earth technology and tracking software. It will also enable Space Forge to use the space environment to make new material structures that cannot be manufactured on earth.

Based at Eastgate Business Park in Cardiff, it currently employs 17 people, but is looking to create another 10 job within the next six to eight months to cater for the growing market for UK launch.

Space Forge chief executive and co-founder Josh Western, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this support for ForgeStar. Sustainable return from space can unlock commercial opportunities not otherwise possible, and leverage low earth orbit as a resource in a similar way to how reductions in launch prices have democratised access to space.

“Space Forge is uniquely positioned to multiply the value of micro gravity research coupled with dedicated return and we cannot wait to see the positive impact this will have on commercial space.

Science Minister George Freeman said: “The UK is fast becoming Europe’s leading destination for small satellite launches, and our growing space industry is developing world-class commercial spaceflight capability up and down the country. Growing the UK space sector is a major part of the Government’s UK ‘Science Superpower’ vision.

“This funding for one of our most innovative space businesses is a big step forward for UK spaceflight, and will help to create highly-skilled jobs as we build back better from the pandemic.”

The UK invested £12m into the Boost! programme, one of the largest investments from ESA member states, in 2019. Scottish space companies Orbex and Skyrora, as well as D-Orbit which has a subsidiary in Harwell in Oxfordshire, have also secured Boost! funding.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “It’s great to see Wales at the forefront of space technology and congratulations to Space Forge on their remarkable success.

“The UK, and Wales, is thriving in the space sector and this £1.7m funding proves the UK Space Agency’s commitment to supporting pioneering projects.”

UK Space Agency chief executive, Dr Paul Bate, said: “This success for Space Forge shows how UK firms are at the forefront of the global space industry.

“The substantial funding support we are delivering to our growing space sector, alongside our world-leading regulatory regime and strong international agreements, means the UK is well placed to benefit from the new commercial opportunities UK launch will bring to communities across the four nations.”

Earlier this year Space Forge secured its latest equity round, the value of which wasn’t disclosed, which was led by Type One Ventures and Space Fund. The Development Bank of Wales also participated.