Frontier Space Technologies Aims to Revolutionize Experiments in Space
Frontier Space Technologies, a startup emerging from Cranfield University in the U.K, is looking to revolutionize experiments conducted in space with their innovative lab called SpaceLab. Astronauts have traditionally conducted experiments on the International Space Station (ISS), but the high cost of crew time and limited hours available have been a bottleneck in space research.
SpaceLab is an autonomous laboratory that can host multiple experiments simultaneously in microgravity without the need for human labor. The technology behind SpaceLab was initially developed as a series of successful student projects at Cranfield University, including the PhD project of Aqeel Shamsul, the co-founder and CEO of Frontier Space Technologies.
The proof of concept for SpaceLab was demonstrated during a prototype flight on an atmospheric balloon as part of the REXUS/BEXUS program supported by the German Aerospace Center and the Swedish National Space Agency. This successful flight validated the potential commercial viability of SpaceLab and motivated the founding team to pursue commercialization of the technology.
SpaceLab is a small 3U CubeSat with a unique feature called the “Multi-Chamber Sample Disc.” This disc can hold multiple samples, keeping them isolated from each other. The disc rotates and aligns each sample chamber with various sensors based on the requirements of the experiment. This allows for independent manipulation of each sample and the ability to conduct multiple experiments simultaneously.
Frontier Space Technologies plans to launch its first on-orbit demonstrations in the fourth quarter of 2024. These demonstrations are being developed in collaboration with the U.K. Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund, The Exploration Company, and Sierra Space. The company intends to launch multiple variants of SpaceLab, focusing on missions such as protein crystallization and live cell cultures.
The successful demonstration of live cell cultures will be a significant milestone, as it will demonstrate that SpaceLab can maintain the viability of live samples during their return to Earth. Currently, Frontier Space Technologies has raised $270,000 in grants and secured a contract with a commercial customer, with ongoing fundraising efforts to support their mission.
– TechCrunch Disrupt. “Frontier Space Technologies launches multiple experiments into space with small, autonomous laboratories.”