AstroForge Inc. has signed a contract with Orbital Astronautics Ltd. (OrbAstro) to fly a 100 kg class spacecraft into deep space for an asteroid survey mission.
The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in late 2023 with Intuitive Machines via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission serves as a prospecting activity and stepping-stone toward AstroForge’s ambitions for asteroid mining.
The OrbAstro ORB-50 satellite platform will host an array of AstroForge payloads associated with assessing asteroids. The spacecraft will use a Lunar slingshot and a Dawn Aerospace propulsion system for the 8 month transit to the asteroid that is in a heliocentric orbit approximately 22 million miles from Earth.
Having recently moved into an 18,000 sq. ft. facility in south Oxfordshire, currently undergoing refurbishment for satellite batch production, OrbAstro is well-aligned with delivering a fleet of asteroid mining spacecraft over the coming years.
“With a finite supply of precious metals on Earth, we have no other choice than to look to deep space to source cost-effective and sustainable materials,” said Matt Gialich, CEO and co-founder of AstroForge. “As we embark on our journey to preserve our planet’s future, we’re grateful to our technology partners like OrbAstro for helping us to become the most efficient, cost-effective asteroid mining solution in the world.”
Dr. Ash Dove-Jay, CEO and Founder of OrbAstro, said, “Deep-space has until now only been within the remit of governments. This is the first fully commercial deep-space mission ever, it is a significant milestone for the space industry. The caliber, speed, and ambition at AstroForge is inspiring – and it is fantastic to forge ahead on this journey together. Beyond being a provider of networks of satellites for various use-cases, a central facet of the OrbAstro roadmap is to deploy space assets over the course of this decade that slash down the difficulties associated with deep-space operations required by companies like AstroForge. The challenge of deep-space communications, and simply knowing where you are and what time it is, are major cost-drivers for deep-space missions that we are working on addressing.”
Co-founded in 2022 by Jose Acain and Matt Gailich, AstroForge will be the first commercial company to venture into deep space. AstroForge was in the Y Combinator W22 cohort and is backed by Initialized Capital, Seven Seven Six, EarthRise, Aera VC, Liquid 2 and Soma.
OrbAstro is a United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Germany based space technology company that builds and supports operations of satellites, with a focus on constellations. With a build schedule of 30+ satellites in 2023, the company is refurbishing its 18,000sqft facility in south Oxfordshire for satellite batch production as it scales, and is building out its own satellite constellation to provide low-latency access & autonomous operations services for its customers satellites. OrbAstro has received support and R&D funding to mature the technologies underpinning its products through the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Innovate UK, and CEOI.