Space Tango plans to place autonomous robotic factory in orbit

Space Tango plans to place aut...
Artist's rendering of the ST-42 orbital platform
Artist's rendering of the ST-42 orbital platform
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Artist's rendering of the ST-42 orbital platform
Artist's rendering of the ST-42 orbital platform

Commercial spaceflight looks set to produce tangible products for use on Earth after Space Tango announced that it is developing an autonomous, robotic orbital platform to use microgravity in the production of items for various industries. Set to launch sometime in the middle of the next decade, the ST-42 platform takes advantage of new techniques developed on the International Space Station (ISS) and more affordable launch systems.

Though commercial spaceflight has been around for some time, it's been largely confined to building spacecraft, delivering payloads to and from orbit, or gathering data that can be sold to customers. However, weightlessness, the ability to control the environment, and other unique properties of space hold the potential for jump-starting a new industrial revolution.

The 15 partners that run the ISS have conducted any number of experiments aimed at developing new orbital industries, and now Space Tango is looking to take the next step of creating products for the biomedical and other technology enterprises using a small-scale autonomous orbiting factory.

According to the company, the unmanned ST-42 will be used on a series of missions to orbit and then return to Earth. Early missions will be used to study technology applications and materials production, but later biomedical missions will adhere to the US FDA Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations governing items made for patient therapeutics.

Space Tango hopes that ST-42 will not only help to develop a low-Earth orbit (LEO) industrial sector worth billions, but also help to advance general autonomous manufacturing capabilities.

"With our TangoLab product line on the ISS, Space Tango has begun to pinpoint the applications and understand the unit economics of building high value products in microgravity for Earth," says Twyman Clements, president and CEO of Space Tango. "This platform [ST-42] is the logical extension of this work and will create a new category of capabilities for LEO commercialization in the space economy. Our experienced team has crafted not only a vision for the future of manufacturing in space but procedures, partnerships and tangible plans for executing ST-42."

Source: Space Tango

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1 comment
Bruce Golden
wow almost no info on what might be possible in terms of payload weight or size or cost … kudos for getting the ISS lab and for having experiments flown but there really has not been a market for low grav processing and I ponder whether anything is likely in the 2019-2039 timeframe … having much lower cost transport obviously is attractive (Spacex re-flyable, ...) and helps