Up until this point, we''ve used traditional manufacturing, but as Josh Western, Earth is a pretty bad place to start things. The planet''s large atmosphere, consistent temperatures, and gravity may avert the manufacturing process, but these concerns don''t exist in space.
"Say you''re making an aluminum alloy," said Andrew Bacon, one of the company''s co-founders. "On Earth, when you''re mixing the metals together, they''ll separate into two layers, with the heavy lead below and the aluminum at the top. "But in microgravity you''ll have trouble mixing them properly."
When you''re designing in space, you don''t have to worry about pollution from the air, like oxygen creating an oxide. "Space is a far better place for making things than here on Earth," Bacon said.
The ForgeStar, which is formerly called the "ForgeStar," is about the size of a small oven. Once in orbit, it will circle the Earth for up to six months as its internal robotic systems manufacture lightweight alloys and super-efficient semiconductors. When the work is done, the satellite will return home with its payload before being refurbished and relaunched with a new set of raw materials on board.
According to Bacon, it''s far more affordable to send goods to space than it used to be. "Typically it cost $20,000 per kilogram. These days you can get as low as $1,000.
In September, ForgeStar will begin its journey to space. It''ll be transported to a rocket alongside other satellites and flied aboard Virgin Orbit''s jet Cosmic Girl. Once it has reached 35,000 feet, the pilot will drop the rocket which will then feece and send the payload to the cosmos.