Satellite Applications Catapult to lead €400k microgravity market stimulation accelerator
The Satellite Applications Catapult is leading the first phase of the new Advanced Materials Accelerator, an initiative of ESA’s Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN), to promote opportunities for engineering novel materials in microgravity. These conditions make it possible to manufacture materials of much higher quality and performance compared to those developed on Earth.
The BSGN Accelerator will be run by a new consortium of six leading European space and materials technology companies and market specialists. The consortium will build interest and demand for space-enabled innovations in the materials sector whilst facilitating cross-sector collaborations.
The BSGN Accelerator has three phases, with the first phase designed to generate interest and demand, and support projects and businesses with commercial potential that could develop products and services in space. It will focus on five advanced materials technology areas: superalloys and hybrid materials, nanomaterials, advanced ceramics, novel polymers and fibres, and functional coatings and thin film systems. The consortium will identify innovations within these categories that can use the microgravity environment to create new technical solutions to known industry and engineering challenges.
As the BSGN Accelerator develops it will actively identify attractive microgravity-enabled projects and support their development, maturation, and commercialisation in collaboration with industry and investors. Ultimately the programme aims to secure at least €1M in funding for future phases, which will be match funded by the European Space Agency to a maximum of €5M. The future phases will focus on upscaling the opportunities identified in phase one, including in-orbit demonstrations and the delivery of prototype products.
This €411k project is funded by a €275k contract award from the European Space Agency’s Business in Space Growth Network and supported by a further €136k in-kind contribution from project partners, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the Satellite Applications Catapult and the Technological Institute of Plastics (AIMPLAS). Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network, the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) Institute of Material Research, and the National Composites Centre (NCC) complete the project consortium.
Sam Adlen, Chief Strategy Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said,
“The development of new materials in microgravity is a hugely exciting opportunity, as the unique manufacturing conditions mean they are often massively improved compared to similar materials developed back on Earth. There are also certain advanced material products that require pristine development conditions that are only made possible in microgravity and the vacuum conditions in space, such as ZBLAN optic fibres.
This programme has the potential to stimulate a new economic sector and also supports innovation in growing in-orbit servicing and manufacturing industry. I look forward to seeing the range of new discoveries which will be made as a result of this programme, and the changes they will make to our lives.”
Lisa Denzer, Innovation Officer in the Team for Commercialisation and Innovation at the Directorate for Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA said,
“Space is, and always has been, an important driver for industrial innovation. This programme is set to revolutionise the development of advanced materials in space. By supporting innovative companies currently manufacturing advanced materials here on Earth, and growing their understanding of what is possible in space, we will develop a new in-space economy for the manufacture of next-generation materials.
I strongly encourage advanced manufacturing companies to get involved with the programme and reap the benefits. The future of ultra-high value manufacturing is in space, and this programme represents a huge opportunity for organisations to explore what is possible without having to take all of the risks.”
The contract is carried out under a programme of and funded by the European Space Agency. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.
For more information contact:
Hamid Soorghali, Business Strategy Consultant, and Advanced Materials Accelerator Programme Lead, Satellite Applications Catapult, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07384834543
About the ESA BSGN Programme
The ESA Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN) Programme is aimed at stimulating non-space sectors for their potential to develop and deliver scalable, space-enabled applications, services, and products. It is facilitating pathways for active engagement and involvement of the private industries to adapt their know-how and capabilities to the space sector to drive innovations using space platforms, and in doing so, support commercialisation of the Lower Earth Orbit economy. This initiative builds on ESA’s long-running objectives to accelerate the development of a new LEO economy and in-orbit infrastructures required for continued progress in space. See www.bsgn.esa.int/ for more information.