First satellite made in Wales to be launched into space this summer

Cardiff-based startup Space Forge are creating the world’s first returnable and reusable satellite platform. Credit: Space Forge

The first satellite made in Wales will be launched into space this summer.

Cardiff-based startup Space Forge, who are creating the world’s first returnable and reusable satellite platform, are partnering with high-precision Space Situational Awareness (SSA) company, Lumi Space, for the first launch of their satellite platform.

The two companies will lift-off together from Spaceport Cornwall this summer, on board Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, which will deploy multiple satellites into Low Earth Orbit.

Space Forge recently announced that it is developing a world-first service incorporating both launch and return of a new small class of vehicle - the ForgeStar - that can be deployed from conventional launchers to provide rapid, reliable and reusable in-space infrastructure.

Software testing on the ForgeStar satellite. Credit: Space Forge

Andrew Bacon, CTO & Co-founder of Space Forge, said: "To ensure our ForgeStar platform can be returned to earth accurately and enable access to microgravity on demand, we need innovative technologies like those that Lumi are developing.

"Tracking a tiny satellite moving at nearly eight kilometres per second will be an impressive feat and we can’t wait to use the data to improve our understanding of the way we fly through the upper atmosphere."

This inaugural mission will see Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0 platform launched for the first time and will test future return from space technology. The collaboration will see Lumi Space trialling their innovative laser technology to track Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0 on its descent.

There’s an unprecedented amount of space debris in uncontrolled orbit and collisions with space infrastructure can have severe consequences. With the number of in-orbit satellites growing rapidly (an estimated 100k by the end of the decade) so too is the risk of collision.In turn, the industry is seeing an increased number of satellite collision warnings – most of which are often ignored (thanks to the 99.9% false-positive warning rate). Aligning with Space Forge’s revolutionary mission, Lumi Space intends to reduce the rate of false-positive warnings to less than 5%, ensuring that when warnings are triggered, necessary action can be taken, and true collisions avoided.

Laser ranging is a key step to avoiding these collisions. Their precise satellite ranging service is 1,000x more accurate at tracking satellites than the current methods used. Documenting the precise arc that a satellite travels on throughout the atmosphere is critical for refining satellite-landing predictions and future models.

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Hira Virdee, CEO and Founder of Lumi Space, said: “Current space surveillance data lacks accuracy.

"Applications such as in-space manufacturing, active debris removal and rendezvous/proximity operations are all enhanced or enabled with better space situational awareness. We’re pleased to support Space Forge and look forward to tracking ForgeStar-0.”

Last week (June 23) the UK Government launched a new Plan for Space Sustainability. Enabling reliable return will be an important facet of the UK’s ambitions to become a leader in space sustainability, and innovative technology like that being trialled on this mission will be key to enabling this long term practice.