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Welsh Aerospace Company Smallspark Aims To Reignite The UK Space Sector
Cardiff-based Smallspark Space Systems announced on 26 May 2020 that it has received three major grants to develop its low-cost, environmentally-friendly rocket engines.
Smallspark are redefining the UK space sector by bringing to market a new generation of low-cost, eco-friendly engines and propulsion systems, making cost-effective and environmentally friendly access to space more readily available and lowering the barriers to space entry for UK groups seeking space access. The award of three prestigious grants this month brings this ambition one step closer to reality.
This month, Smallspark secured major grants from Research England, the European Regional Development Fund, administered through the Westcott Business Incubation Centre, and the Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT), to support the development of their prototype engine, nicknamed The Westcott Drive, alongside artificial intelligence and software to assist in the design of their low-cost, environmentally-friendly, rocket engines for high-performance and cost-effective small satellite launches in the UK.
This wave of new funding will help Smallspark bring forward the next generation of rocket engines, providing a major boost to the UK Aerospace sector and delivering new employment opportunities in communities in South Wales and beyond as they continue to grow.
Working alongside SPRINT, Westcott, Research England and university partners including University of Southampton, this new tranche of grant funding will support the development of intelligent, next-generation aerospace optimisation software and cutting-edge designs and unique fuel deployment systems which come together to revolutionise the space payload delivery sector, cutting costs dramatically in an environmentally friendly manner as yet never seen. Additionally, a key component of Smallspark’s design is that it is ‘launchpad agnostic’, providing greater levels of versatility and agility where necessary.
Smallspark and its founders are committed to their community, and as the company grows, so too do to the levels of community contribution the company looks to make, with a STEM awareness programme, engagement with local schools, colleges and universities, and much more in the pipeline.
“In the design of both our engines and our AI software, we’re taking a fundamentally different approach. Aerospace and satellite companies are looking to decrease costs for small satellite launches whilst optimising the robustness and thrust of the rocket engines,” said Joe Ward, Chief Executive Officer of Smallspark Space Systems said. “This, and the geometry of combustion chambers present a series of unique challenges for engine manufacturers.”
Ward continued: “The expertise in mathematical research at the University of Southampton will enable us to focus driving up performance while driving down our costs. This collaboration is the start of a long-term project that will go beyond SPRINT and that will position Smallspark as a leader for low-cost launches as the only company using architecture like this in the rocket engine market.”
The 2021 Wernher Von Braun Symposium, October 12 - 14, an annual event that brings together the rocket, propulsion and aerospace part of the NASA community, has just ended in Huntsville, Alabama. This year’s priorities were linked to the upcoming launch of Artemis I, the first unmanned phase of the long-term Artemis project,