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COSMIC LFAM – ESA Grand Challenge deadline extended to September 30th

Apply to play a role in space manufacturing and compete for a €100,000 prize

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Caracol, a leader in large-scale industrial 3D printing, D-Orbit, a market leader in space logistics, and the European Space Agency (ESA) teamed up to launch the COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge last May 26th. Now the deadline for entering the challenge and win a €100,000 prize has been extended to September 30th.

COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge has two main objectives. One is the development of a fundamental Low-Earth-Orbit economy enabler. A 3D printing technique for composite materials that may be employed in low-gravity or microgravity settings. The second is the enhancement of terrestrial processes based on the evolution of space manufacturing techniques.

If you are an SME registered in one of the ESA Member, Cooperating or Associate States, you can apply to compete in the COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge and get your chance to win 100,000 EUR, by applying until 15 July 2023. It’s the ability to offer design freedom in space that would make your ambitious team the winner.

Through this challenge, the world of large-scale 3D printing, synonymous with quality and optimization on Earth, is venturing into space, supported by ESA. The agency has been studying the possible applications of various 3D printing (and bioprinting) technologies in Space for many years. Now it’s time to imagine a future where advanced in-orbit manufacturing transforms various industries sustainably. The demand for adaptable 3D printing technologies that thrive in space is growing and Caracol’s robotic manufacturing system holds the potential to transcend traditional space mission constraints.

COSMIC LFAM - ESA Grand Challenge extended: apply to play a role in space manufacturing and compete for a €100,000 prize
Caracol’s large format robotic extrusion technology.

“This strategic partnership puts together a great consortium between Caracol as technology developers, a leading innovative scale-up in-orbit servicing field, D-Orbit, and the European Space Agency as an enabler of innovation. The aim is to support EU companies in helping them push the boundaries of additive manufacturing further, to achieve a breakthrough in the manufacturing of large parts in space environments and share these learnings to lead advancements also on Earth,” said Francesco De Stefano, CEO and co-founder of Caracol.

Caracol pushes additive manufacturing boundaries with Heron AM, an integrated platform for large-scale composite component production. Their technology finds applications in the aerospace, marine, energy, design, and architecture sectors.

D-Orbit, a leader in space logistics, reduces satellite launch-to-operations time and costs through innovative solutions like ION Satellite Carrier. They are shaping the in-orbit servicing sector, focusing on profitability, environmental responsibility, and social impact as a certified B-Corp space company.

“As a leader in the space logistics sector, we definitely support technological advances in the field of material technologies, that can ultimately lead to better products and better services for our customers,” says Stefano Antonetti, VP Business Development at D-Orbit. “European SMEs and start-ups are a forge of innovative and disruptive ideas, and we are looking forward to seeing large participation in the Challenge.”

COSMIC LFAM - ESA Grand Challenge extended: apply to play a role in space manufacturing and compete for a €100,000 prize
D-Orbit’s ION “last-mile” satellite delivery service.

COSMIC LFAM also presents the opportunity to showcase a company’s expertise and access the ESA’s technical expertise that may be otherwise inaccessible. And who knows? A new and innovative technology might spark the in-orbit manufacturing industry.

Maintenance is indispensable for space infrastructure, and it is more sustainable to produce spare components on demand in space. Also, manufacturing in space requires overcoming the constraints placed on payload design.

Whilst institutional actors and long-standing space firms are the most advanced in the field of in-orbit servicing, there are a rising number of new and established companies working on technology creation for in-orbit manufacturing, in-orbit assembly, and in-orbit services. The majority of these new endeavors, however, are still in the conceptual stage.

The development of adequate manufacturing technologies requires identifying suitable materials and processing techniques for the various intended applications.

COSMIC LFAM asks competitors to devise a physical model that could eventually adapt to a composite materials additive manufacturing process to be able to operate it in an uncontrolled space environment, could that be microgravity and/or reduced gravity, vacuum and temperature variations.

Or it could provide in-process monitoring capability, to be able to record the parameters of the process during the manufacturing and – or – adapt Caracol’s robotic manufacturing systems to be able to operate within the constraints of a space mission, such as volume, mass, and power budgets.

The ESA Grand Challenge attracts wide communities of thinkers and problem solvers, catalyzed by ESA and space, to address specific challenges with unconventional and disruptive approaches. This may also trigger the development and exploitation of unforeseen spin-off businesses.

Applicants should carefully review the ESA Grand Challenge terms and conditions and then submit applications to grand.challenge@esa.int.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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