IOSM-bannerUKSA_
Beyond Earth

In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing

Scroll down to explore

WHAT IS IOSM?

In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM) covers a range of activities focusing on in-space capabilities. The Catapult’s Access to Space team is leading our IOSM capabilities with experts in the areas of robotics, manufacturing, in-orbit operations, and much more. We are keen to work with you on developing your in-space products, services, and solutions, through our knowledge and experience as well as specialist facilities and equipment.

vicon-iosm-yard-7-edited

THE STORY SO FAR

The space economy in the UK is changing at a rapid pace. In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM) is set to shape this economy with the UK well-placed to become a global leader in the emerging IOSM marketplace.

The development of national facilities such as the Catapult’s IOSM testing facility at Westcott Space Cluster will be important to ensure that the UK secures the greatest IOSM market share.

The IOSM Testing Facility was built in 2022 and includes a robotics yard to support the testing of in-orbit commercial space applications such as assembly, repair, and inspection.

In 2024, the UK Space Agency set out to invest in work that aims to prolong the life of satellites and ensures that space remains sustainable for future generations. This included a £2 million upgrade to the Catapult’s IOSM testing facility which will become the first in the UK capable of verification, validation, and demonstration of in-orbit operations.

IOSM-Yard-002

Since establishing the IOSM testing facility, the Catapult holds a leading position in supporting IOSM activities within the UK. Enhancing and expanding the facility will leverage our existing in-house IOSM expertise and further support the flourishing space ecosystem at Westcott Space Cluster.

This project will deliver increased versatility, extra capacity, enhanced productivity, and a more realistic orbital environment at our testing facility, allowing us to better support innovators to de-risk their in-orbit flight technology and to build a safety case for operator licensing of close proximity operations.

The investment from UK Space Agency will enable our IOSM testing facility to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the UK space sector in supporting the anticipated growth of in-orbit technologies and mission validation. Therefore allowing our facility to play a key role in developing the UK’s IOSM sector, enabling UK businesses to develop new IOSM products and services with a worldwide impact.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

The project objectives aim to develop several capability areas listed below, both new and enhanced, supporting innovators to de-risk their in-orbit flight technology and to build a safety case for operator licensing of Close Proximity Operations (CPO) activities.

 

  • Acquiring larger space craft models and industry standard capture and docking devices to improve realism.
  • Reconfiguring the current facility to provide a greater working range.
  • Improving the orbital environment simulation through the installation of an automated lighting system.
  • Dynamically tracking and updating the position of the existing robots to improve testing accuracy.
  • Providing a gravity off-load system to simulate the effects of contact between space craft in a micro-gravity environment.
  • Development of advanced simulation environments allowing virtual testing to be carried out.

ALIGNMENT WITH THE NATIONAL SPACE STRATEGY AND OTHER GLOBAL INITIATIVES

Demand for space provided services is increasing rapidly for both commercial and scientific applications, including:

Large space structures, assembled in-orbit, will be made feasible by the significantly reduced launch costs and much larger launchers coming online.

UK Government’s Net Zero strategy supporting the development of space based solar power

Return to the Moon initiatives in development across space agencies and commercial companies globally.

Emerging potential for micro-gravity factories, delivering in-orbit manufacturing of high-performance materials such as defect free semi-conductors.

Additionally, there is rising international pressure to establish sustainable behaviour norms and solutions for low earth orbit. All of the above activities promote the move away from single-use satellites and the potential to guide the direction of future internationally based programmes that maintain and enhance the UK’s leading position in the IOSM sector.

IOSM can enable a space economy where space craft are maintained and repaired, reducing risks to critical infrastructure reliant on space assets.

IOSM activities are currently performed in Earth’s orbit, but in time with collaboration across Government, Academia and Industry can provide the foundations for moving towards sustainable space infrastructures in other orbits such as the moon, Mars and beyond.

 

vicon-iosm-yard-3-edited
shutterstock_80132983_capture-scaled-1
Extractive Industries

Hephaestus

Explore
Project Completed
MicrosoftTeams-image-6-scaled-1
Beyond Our Earth, In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing

IOSM Digital Environment

Explore
Project Ongoing