Norfolk start-up Gravitilab launches its “Space as a Service” programme

Gravitilab sits at the heart of UK Space and Science strategy driving Research and Testing in Space while maintaining a laser focus on sustainability. Its revolutionary LOUIS drop pod has provided a specialist microgravity testing environment in the UK for the first time. The Company announces research into a brand new eco-rocket fuel derived from Beeswax.

Katherine Courtney, former CEO of the UK Space Agency, and senior strategic adviser to the Government, joined representatives from across industry, academia and the investment community, at a special event in Norfolk showcasing “Space as a Service”.

The event was hosted by Spacetech start-up, Gravitilab, at its headquarters in Norwich. The fast growing company is developing technologies and services to provide accessible and affordable Research and Testing services that will enable innovation while also reducing the build-up of Space debris.

Gravitilab’s solutions come at a time when the UK government has reconfirmed its ambition for the UK to be a Science and Innovation “superpower” and launched its ‘Plan for Space Sustainability’.

Gravitilab’s Research and Testing services enable the qualification of equipment that is destined for Space, thereby reducing the unsustainable 50% failure rate of small satellites which are contributing to the dangerous build-up of Space debris. In order to provide these services Gravitilab has developed a fleet of suborbital hybrid powered rockets and a revolutionary Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) which releases a drop pod from a drone.

These vehicles enable Gravitilab’s customers to expose their Research and Testing payloads to real Space environments to understand how they behave with variations in temperature, thrust, radiation, vibration and most importantly microgravity.

The company’s principal commercial rocket, ISAAC, will fly to an altitude of 250 km (not far short of the International Space Station), before safely returning to Earth for recovery and re-use. Meanwhile the drop pod system, LOUIS, has recently delivered a world first of microgravity from a drone. This provides the opportunity to run local and affordable testing campaigns at lower altitudes.

Guests at the event were given an opportunity to get close to the rockets, drones and other technology which could offer a solution for industry, academia, governments and international space programmes.

Other speakers at the Open Day event included Dr Helen Fraser, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy at the Open University and Bianca Cefalo, CEO of Space DOTS, both of whom stressed the importance of innovation for furthering the space sustainability agenda. They also emphasised that the UK Space industry is now at the point where “the market is coming over the mountain”.

Gravitilab’s CEO Rob Adlard commented: “We are determined to do everything we can to encourage a more sustainable approach to Space. I was delighted to be able to announce further research into our new eco rocket fuel which will be derived from beeswax.”

He added: “We are also working hard to make launch facilities more accessible to the 90% of the UK Space industry that is located along the Oxford-Cambridge arc. Our talks with the CAA are progressing well and we hope to be launching from the Norfolk coast in the next three years.”

New Anglia LEP is working with Gravitilab and other regional partners including BT, University of East Anglia, Hethel Innovation and national agencies including the UK Space Agency, to develop a space sector plan for the region and drive forward a new programme of activity for our growing space cluster. Further details to be announced in the coming weeks.