What Now For Space Forge? Forging On!24th Jan 2023
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison. Space Forge doesn’t have to recover from 10,000 ways that won’t work; just the one. In fact, there was no failure on the part of the Cardiff-based space company. Instead, it was caught up in the misfortunes of the first UK space launch.
After the high-profile launch issues with the Virgin Orbit launch from Cornwall, and the shutdown of the UK launch, what steps is the company due to take to get its technology into space?
No replacement at Space Forge
Co-founder Joshua Western has been speaking in the wake of the shutdown, in which the satellites being carried were totally lost. Space Forge plans to bring satellites to Cardigan Bay, Ceredigion and launch later in 2023. Western was buoyant when discussing the technology:
“It was a real shame that we didn’t get to make it to space, but we still got to learn a great deal. We still built and launched the first satellite ever designed and built in Wales,” he said in a BBC interview.
“We also know that ForgeStar-0 worked perfectly. It passed every test and every validation activity we could throw at it, and it’s just a shame that it never got the chance to show it off in space.”
Space Forge was one of the industry and government satellites being carried when an anomaly led to the mission failing to reach its final orbit. The satellites were lost, but the company claims that insurance has covered the majority of their financial losses, and they are getting ready to go again.
Western spoke about the rarity of a rocket launch failing so late in the mission, and the frustration caused, but he wasn’t in the mood for feeling sorry for himself:
“After we knew the launch had failed, we gathered round with the team, to make sure they were OK. We took a moment to grieve for ForgeStar-0, and then got our heads down for ForgeStar-1.”
ForgeStar-1 is arguably even more ambitious, and goes to space with the ambition of proving that semi-conductors can be manufactured in space and returned to the earth ready to be used in industry applications like computer chips.
Joshua Western and his company co-founder Andrew Bacon are a wonderful example of the ambition within the UK at the moment. Western spoke about the ambitions to return their Forge Start platforms to Cardigan Bay, and utilise the “unique geography” of Wales.
“Wales is one of the very few places in Europe and unique to the UK where you can accurately return a satellite to it.
“There’s no damage to marine life or the environment, it’s entirely fuel-free. We then bring those satellites back to HQ here in Cardiff, refurbish it for the first time ever and launch the satellite again.”
ForgeStar-1 is already being made and it is 12 to 16 weeks away from being ready, though its launch will probably take place from US soil, rather than in the UK, it is still a big positive for the industry.