Collaboration to explore in-space manufacturing
Northrop Grumman and Space Forge, a British space company headquartered in Cardiff, have signed a collaboration agreement to explore future space-based manufacturing focused on semiconductor development that can enhance the value of multiple ground-to-space operations.
As part of this collaboration, Northrop Grumman will provide business and technical advice, microelectronics training workshops, collaborative design review, and material testing and characterisation. The collaboration aligns with the visionary goals outlined in the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) of March 2021.
The global semiconductor industry is anticipated to grow to $1 trillion in revenues by 2030, doubling in this decade. This growth is expected to require investment in high-end advanced wafer manufacturing materials, equipment, and services. In-space manufacturing offers unique advantages, such as microgravity and vacuum conditions, that can lead to the creation of semiconductors with superior performance and reduced defects compared to those manufactured on Earth.
Steve Krein, Vice President of Civil and Commercial Space at Northrop Grumman, said: “Manufacturing in orbit has the potential to open a wide range of opportunities across multiple industrial sectors. As a global leader in space exploration and in-orbit servicing, we look forward to collaborating to further develop this emerging market.”
Josh Western, CEO and Co-Founder of Space Forge, said: "This collaboration brings together the expertise and innovation of both the UK and US space industries, and we believe it will be a game-changer in unlocking the tremendous potential of space-based manufacturing. By developing advanced semiconductor materials in the unique environment of space, we aim to revolutionise the global semiconductor market and support its rapid growth, ultimately driving new advancements in technology and the economy."
Craig Brown, Investment Director at the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK Space Agency is working to help the industry catalyse investment and improve capabilities. This collaboration between Northrop Grumman and Space Forge is a fantastic opportunity to unlock the potential of a UK space-based manufacturing supply chain to accelerate the development of semiconductor technologies, helping the UK to lead in an expanding global market while paving the way for a more sustainable world.”