Farukh Kitchlew | Nov 29, 2023 | 0
Orbital Composites: $3M Contracts Fuel In-Space Innovation
Advanced manufacturing startup Orbital Composites has secured three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts valued at over $3 million, reinforcing its commitment to pioneering in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing initiatives.
Following a contract with the U.S. Space Force (USSF), the business will concentrate on creating a ground-breaking antenna based on the recently developed discipline of “quantum field theory.” This antenna has the potential for use in energy and defense applications. The creation and 3D printing of affordable CubeSats are the subject of the second USSF contract. Extreme radiation settings, like those in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), are not a problem for these because of their design. The third SBIR, conducted in collaboration with the Air Force, is focused on improving composite printing methods using “carbon-carbon” material.
Unconventional Approach to the Space Industry
Orbital Composite’s CEO, Amolak Badesha, emphasized the company’s unconventional approach to the space industry. Founded in 2015, the company utilizes additive manufacturing to create robotic systems for composite production across different scales. Furthermore, Badesha noted the versatility of their techniques, applicable across industries from aerospace to energy.
The company’s long-term strategy involves a three-step process. The initial phase entails manufacturing on Earth and launching products into space. The subsequent step envisions terrestrial 3D printing and in-space assembly, a cost-effective method for creating sizeable components like antennas. Consequently, it seeks to perform all manufacturing in space, reducing costs tied to Earth-based production and launches.
CEO Badesha emphasized the critical role of in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (ISAM) in this plan. The SBIR contract backs the company’s goal of creating big space antennas, especially for space-based solar power.
Recent developments have further substantiated Orbital Composites’ ambitions. The company recently secured a $1.7 million contract from the USSF, partnering with Axiom Space, Northrop Grumman, and the Southwest Research Institute to explore 3D printing of expansive antennas in space. Moreover, the ultimate goal is to set up an ISAM lab on Axiom’s space station, a vital step toward the company’s visionary goals.