Firms team up to power new age of steam in space

06/12/19 | Tenant News

Two hi-tech Westcott based companies are working together to develop steam technology for satellites.

SteamJet Space Systems and Total Carbide will work together on producing a steam-fuelled propulsion system which will be used on small satellites including miniature CubeSats.

The companies met at the monthly Space Innovators networking event at the Westcott Space Cluster and realised their technologies had real synergy. As a result, Total Carbide, which specialises in highly durable tungsten carbide manufacturing, will support the production of SteamJet’s innovative propulsion system, believed to be the first of its kind in Europe.

Funding has come from support provided by the Westcott Incubation Centre (WBIC) which led to SteamJet receiving a £5,000 grant from the UK Space Agency.

Both firms are also part of the Westcott Space Cluster of companies and members of the Government’s SPRINT programme which provides funding for innovative firms in the sector.

SteamJet Director Dr Marco Pavan said: “We were the first company to join the Westcott Business Innovation Centre in June 2018 and it has been an ideal location as there is an ecosystem of space sector firms on the Park which has led to this collaboration.

“Total Carbide specialises in the sort of skilled, highly accurate manufacturing to deliver this type of production and we have also had business and funding support which has been really helpful.”

A prototype of the propulsion system has now been built and will be tested in space-simulated conditions in Southampton by the end of March with a patent due to be filed.

More than 3,000 CubeStats will be sent into orbit in the next five to six years driven by demand for earth observation and telecommunications. The technology will enable satellites to stay longer in space, change and optimise their orbit, avoid collisions, operate in constellations and de-orbit.

Andreas Hohmann, Managing Director of Total Carbide, said: “It’s great to be working with another Space Cluster business at Westcott. We have worked in the space and aviation sectors for years and produce components for the Rolls Royce jet engines and for Collins Aerospace, so this is an exciting addition to our client portfolio.”

With its six-strong workforce likely to expand, SteamJet will soon require larger office space and are hoping to move into the new Westcott Innovation Centre at the Park once built in 2020.

Nigel MacKenzie, Project Manager at Westcott, said: “A big part of our message is collaboration and we are committed to building a positive eco system which will attract like-minded companies and individuals to develop their ideas.

“It’s great to see SteamJet and Total Carbide working together to bring this new innovation to life.”

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