In 2025 humanity will have its first floating factory in space. This advance, which will help improve research and missions, arises from the agreement between the companies Thales Alenia Space Y Space Cargo Unlimited.
These two companies will initiate the first phase of the design and production of the REV1which will be the first vehicle that will make up the factory that will have the ability to reuse for 20 missions and carry payloads into space for two to three months duration.
“This project will be essential to improve the technological capabilities of the European space industry, placing both companies at the forefront of the ‘New Space’ economy through unprecedented space applications,” he said. Massimo Comparini, Deputy CEO and Director of Thales’ Observation, Exploration and Navigation activities.
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A factory in space
The pressurized vehicle will be key for specific missions focused on issues of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and new materials by having key conditions in its laboratory for research and manufacturing on these issues.
The REV 1 it will have the ability to adapt to any available and compatible launch system, which will give the vehicle flexibility to fulfill missions in equatorial orbit, mainly.
As for factory production, Thales will be responsible for design, engineering and development, while Space Cargo Unlimited will be the owner and commercial operator of the vehicle. Something very similar to how it works in the air transport sector in which some are the manufacturers and others are the operators of the planes.
The company that will own the vehicle will open an office in Turin from where they will have the possibility to review, maintain and repair future spacecraft, which they consider a “service center” for this sector of the space industry.
Being part of the company’s project to exploit the production of a fleet of autonomous cargo vehicles with re-entry capabilities to Earth and that have the potential of microgravity for commercial applications.
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This project is not the only one of its kind. ThinkOrbital it is also working on a platform aimed at companies, military and government agencies that want to make products in orbit and recycle waste.
The silver could be used to create housing and military applications, as well as turn waste into products again, saving companies money.
“We’re working on a hub-and-spoke concept where smaller satellites would go out and collect the debris, bring it back to a central location, process it, and we could turn it into fuel or take it out of orbit,” said Lee Rosen, co-founder , president and chief strategy officer of the startup.
The factories would be brought into orbit in a single launch, feature self-assembly, and have refueling. All this pointing to space tourism and research in the sector.
The company was participating in a competition of the POT to develop commercial concepts in space, but they did not lose and that is why they point to this project that they see as a “new product that is more viable.”