Space: First Welsh satellite set to be launched later in 2022

The first satellite made in Wales is set to be launched into space later this year.

Space Forge’s satellite was built in a unit in Rumney, Cardiff, that was previously used to make burger vans.

It will be a test, with the company aiming to launch a returnable and reusable satellite next year.

It is part of a launch by Virgin Orbit, which will deploy multiple satellites into low Earth orbit – usually within 1,000km (620 miles) of Earth.

Space Forge has partnered with high-precision space situational awareness company, Lumi Space, in an attempt to create the world’s first returnable and reusable satellite platform.

This year’s satellite, which will be launched from Newquay in Cornwall, will not return to earth, but Space Forge’s chief executive, Joshua Western confirmed a return launch had been booked for next year.

Mr Western’s introduction into the space industry was less than typical.

He studied politics at university and started Space Forge in 2018, going full-time in 2020 – the same week the first Covid lockdown was announced.

He said: “I was passionate about space as a boy, like most kids, but I wasn’t very good at science.

“I didn’t even know the UK had a space industry until 2014, so I wrote to the CEO of a space company and said ‘hello, I’d like a job interview’. Very kindly they gave me an interview and I got a job.

“There, I met my co-founder Andrew (Bacon), who was the most phenomenal engineer and presented the technologies of space to me.”

The company is based in Rumney and took over a 7,500 sq ft unit, which was previously used to make burger vans for fairgrounds, last year.

Mr Western said: “For 13 months we operated without a building, we were shipping space hardware around Europe to be worked on by our employees. We didn’t meet some of them for six or seven months.

“In March 2020, we had just two people, now we have 40 full-time, who are all based in Cardiff.”

The satellite will be launched from Spaceport Cornwall this summer as part of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, to test its new return capability.

As well as Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0, Virgin Orbit will deploy multiple satellites into low Earth orbit.

The inaugural mission will see the ForgeStar-0 launched to test future return from space technology, it can be deployed from conventional launchers to provide reliable and rapid results.

Lumi Space will also be trialling its laser technology to track the satellite on its descent.

Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, said: “Space Forge is joining the growing community of space innovators advancing space technologies for the betterment of our world.”

Space Forge confirmed there would be a finished satellite by the end of July, which will then be sent Cornwall and integrated to be launched.

The satellite will be launched from Spaceport Cornwall this summer as part of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, to test its new return capability.

As well as Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0, Virgin Orbit will deploy multiple satellites into low Earth orbit.

The inaugural mission will see the ForgeStar-0 launched to test future return from space technology, it can be deployed from conventional launchers to provide reliable and rapid results.

Lumi Space will also be trialling its laser technology to track the satellite on its descent.

Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, said: “Space Forge is joining the growing community of space innovators advancing space technologies for the betterment of our world.”

Space Forge confirmed there would be a finished satellite by the end of July, which will then be sent Cornwall and integrated to be launched.

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