SAN FRANCISCO — Orbital Composites will space qualify technology to manufacture antennas in orbit under a $1.7 million U.S. Space Force contract announced July 13.
The Small Business Innovation Research contract, awarded through the SpaceWERX Orbital Prime program, gives an important boost to the Campbell, California, startup’s plans for in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing, Amolak Badesha, Orbital Composites co-founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “We’re talking about printing outside of the space station and printing much larger structures over time.”
Working with partners Axiom Space, Northrop Grumman and the Southwest Research Institute, Orbital Composites will test robotic technology to 3D print antennas for satellite-based cellular broadband and kilometer-scale antennas for space-based solar power. The goal is to ensure the technology can withstand the temperature extremes and radiation of spaceflight, Badesha said.
“This prestigious SBIR award, coupled with our partnerships with Axiom Space, Northrop Grumman, and SwRI, marks a crucial juncture in our journey,” Cole Nielsen, Orbital Composites founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “Our Space Factories will leverage advanced robotics and autonomous systems to build high-performance antennas in space, reducing the cost” by more than 100-fold.
In June, Orbital Composites announced plans to work with Michigan-based Virtus Solis Technologies to develop a megawatt-scale space-based solar power station.
Axiom Space Station
Axiom is currently conducting private astronaut flights to the International Space Station and developing space suits. The company’s long-term goal is establishing a private space station.
Under the direct to phase 2 Orbital Prime contract, Orbital Composites and Axiom will design an in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing laboratory that resides outside the Axiom space station. In addition to antennas, elements…