COLORADO SPRINGS – Space Forge announced plans April 19 to expand its U.S. presence to include manufacturing.
The Cardiff, Wales-based startup focused on fabricating high-value materials in space is looking for a U.S. location for manufacturing ForgeStar satellites and payloads for U.S. customers.
“We are engaged in conversations with multiple states to identify the best location to our new US HQ,” Tarek Waked, Space Forge board member and investor, said by email.
Among potential U.S. customers, Space Forge sees strong interest in on-orbit semiconductor manufacturing.
“We’ve had a lot of taps on the shoulder from both government and commercial players that are interested in our core capabilities,” Space Forge CEO Joshua Western told SpaceNews.
The combination of the war in Ukraine, U.S. passage of the CHIPS Act and reshoring initiatives “is leading to a surge in sovereign and allied semiconductor capability,” Western said. “We’ve seen a strengthening of Five Eyes and the AUKUS Alliance. We’re positioning ourselves well across those allied partners to be able to deliver.”
Waked, founding partner of Type One Ventures, added in a statement, “Space Forge’s move to the U.S. couldn’t have come at a better moment, what with the CHIPs Act and NASA’s enthusiasm for in-space manufacturing. The team’s efforts on the ForgeStar platform are paving the way for an ‘above shore’ capability, which is super cool.”
Space Forge raised $10.2 million in 2021 for its plan to operate ForgeStar, a reusable satellite designed for on-orbit manufacturing and precision return of payloads to Earth. The company intends to take advantage of microgravity, extreme temperatures and the vacuum of space to produce materials that are more pure and have fewer defects than materials produced on Earth.
To prevent defects from occurring during the journey back to Earth, ForgeStar will “effectively float from orbit to the ground much more gently than your traditional ablative capsule,” Western said.
Space Forge intends to manufacture semiconductors, alloys and biological materials in orbit.
“We occasionally will be flying ancillary payloads as well,” Western said. “They might be doing space domain awareness, space weather, sensing or material science for spacecraft structures.”
Space Forge lost its first satellite, ForgeStar-0, on the Virgin Orbit launch from the U.K. that failed in January.
An upgraded version, ForgeStar-1A, is scheduled to launch later this year on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flight. ForgeStar-1A will demonstrate Space Forge’s in-space manufacturing capability and gather safety data, Western said.
“We’ll be demonstrating a lot of the safety case around being able to return these sorts of platforms to not just North America, but also to Europe and other return locations that we’re looking to establish in both hemispheres,” Western said.