Friday, June 21, 2024

The Welsh firms awarded £8m investment to boost Wales’ space infrastructure

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Two pioneering space companies in Wales have been awarded almost £8m from a new fund set up by the UK Space Agency to develop two research, manufacturing and testing facilities in Wales. Cardiff scale-up Space Forge has received £7.9m to build a National Microgravity Research Centre for advanced material research and production.

The total cost of building the centre is £13m which will be reached through match contributions, says Space Forge. The centre will be the first-of-its-kind and play a pivotal role in advancing in-space manufacturing research, with a primary focus on inorganic crystal structures grown in microgravity conditions for use in electronics.

It will also offer open access and support for space companies to establish itself as a central space hub for the growing sector in Wales. Aerospace company Snowdonia LLP has been awarded £800,000 in SCIF funding to develop a Space Technology Test Centre at the Snowdonia Space Centre in Gwynedd.

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It will exploit the unique location of the Snowdonia Space Centre, with its own immediate danger area and direct access to a larger danger area over Cardigan Bay, to provide a flight test range for rocket-powered test vehicles, near-space scientific flights, microgravity research and trials of re-entry vehicles and payload recovery systems.

The test range will be complemented by a space technology testing laboratory featuring a centrifuge, thermal vacuum chamber, vibration table, aerostructures rig and a rocket engine test stand. The funding for the two projects is part of the Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) which has awarded more than £47m to 12 projects throughout the UK.

Space Forge chief executive and co-founder Joshua Western said: “This is a significant milestone for Space Forge. With the establishment of our National Microgravity Research Centre, we are poised to drive innovation, research, and production of advanced materials.

“This endeavour strengthens our presence in the UK’ and has incredible potential for the sovereign supply chain. We are excited to provide a platform for space companies through our ‘pathway to space’ initiative, and we can help start-ups not far behind us accelerate their microgravity research and hardware development – alongside helping them avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made along our journey.”

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