Space: First Welsh satellite set to be launched later in 2022
Later this year, the first satellite constructed in Wales will be sent into orbit.
The Rumney, Cardiff, facility where Space Forge built its satellite formerly produced burger trucks.
The business plans to launch a reusable, returnable satellite next year, so this will only be a test.
It is a component of a Virgin Orbit launch that will place many satellites in low Earth orbit, which is typically 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) above the planet.
The goal of Space Forge’s collaboration with Lumi Space, a high-precision space situational awareness firm, is to develop the first returnable and reusable satellite platform.
The satellite being launched this year from Newquay, Cornwall, won’t come back to earth, but Space Forge’s CEO, Joshua Western, said a return launch has been scheduled for the following year.
The way Mr Western entered the space sector was unusual.
In college, he majored in politics. He founded Space Forge in 2018 and began working there full-time in 2020, the same week that the first COVID lockdown was announced.
The company, which is based in Rumney, acquired a 7,500-square-foot facility last year that had been used to manufacture burger trucks for fairgrounds.
As part of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, the satellite will be launched from Spaceport Cornwall this summer to test its enhanced return capability.
In addition to Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0, Virgin Orbit will launch several satellites into low Earth orbit.
The ForgeStar-0 will be launched on its first mission to test future technology for returning from space; it can be deployed from traditional launchers and can deliver accurate data quickly.
To track the satellite as it descends, Lumi Space will also test out its laser technology.
“Space Forge is joining the increasing community of space innovators pioneering space technologies for the betterment of our world,” stated Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit.
A finished satellite will be ready by the end of July, according to Space Forge, after which it will be shipped to Cornwall and assembled in preparation for launch.