De la science-fiction à l'élaboration du projet, une usine dans l'espace se profile à l'horizon 2023. © 3000ad, Adobe Stock

SpaceX will move the first factory into space

The creation of factories in space is not a whim of billionaires detached from reality, but rather projects that are being developed and gradually bear fruit. Like Jeff Bezos, president of Blue Origin, who wants to send polluting industries into space, space research company Varda Space, wants to become the first to build a factory in space by collaborating with SpaceX, which should be as early as 2023.

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An industrial plant in space? The Varda Space project may seem far-fetched – there is no shortage of space on Earth to design factories – but it can lead to the development of industries on the ground.

Farda’s interest is in using microgravity to manufacture new materials or advance research on the International Space Station on specific products. According to TechCrunch, for example, we can manufacture bioprinted devices or Semiconductors Even if at present nothing is disclosed since no contract has been signed with the client.

To be able to make the flight, Varda Space needs to find partners to make the flight to low Earth orbit. This is the place SpaceX The role of the last show comes to companies that want to send things into space to take advantage of one of their planned flights to do so. Basically, the two companies are taking a trip into space together. When they reach their destination, they separate and each get busy on their own. In short, a kind of “spatial car sharing”. A little different from your Sunday trip between Angers and Paris…

Varda Space has announced that it wants to move its factory to a Falcon 9, Properties SpaceX, for the beginning of the year 2023 launchers From SpaceX it will transport the supplies needed to set up the factory in space. If the companies don’t reveal any of the contract clauses, we know the machine will spend about three months in orbit testing these new manufacturing technologies.

Landing, the most important moment in the mission

However, another firing option has been studied using Electron missiles from rocket lab. But Varda Space did not want to put all its eggs in one basket, as the New Zealand company will take care of the spacecraft to accommodate the supplies as well as the capsule to return to Earth. A very important capsule since the returnAtmosphere It is done at Mach 28 and the material must not break drop.

In fact, the most complex moment from industrialization to recovery remains the moment of re-entry into the atmosphere. Mach 28 is twice the speed of sound (1.224 km/h). Remember the science fiction movies in which we see the capsule returning to Earth. Now imagine that you are transporting sensitive materials through this uncertain environment while taking on many outside influences. This will undoubtedly be one of the crucial moments of the mission.

Unlike other spacecraft specializing in communications or imaging, Varda Space and its Space Factory It does not require a specific mission orbit. It is enough to be able to stay in it low earth orbit. Lessons learned during this first trip may allow others to implement them. Varda Space hopes to be able to launch a second or even a third by the end of 2024.

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A date that remains elusive leaving the opportunity for other projects to see the light of day. We know, for example, that the European Union is working on this topic with the “Period” project, which wants to develop an orbital plant. It will focus on assembling and manufacturing satellites directly from space in partnership with Airbus. Anyway, these ambitious projects give us a glimpse into new perspectives for manufacturers and entrepreneurs from all fields.

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