4 mins read 08 Jun 2022

Valiant Space receives supply chain grant to manufacture thruster

Valiant Space have received a grant for $750,000 to develop their manufacturing capability, which will support the development of their non-toxic chemical satellite propulsion system.

Valiant’s prototype thruster undergoing a hot-fire test. Valiant have plans to test a new propellant valve developed for their flagship thruster, the VS-1, in space later this year. Credit: Supplied.

As part of the Moon to Mars initiative, which is supporting the development of the Australian Space Industry to be part of NASA's endeavour to reach Mars (via the Moon), Valiant Space has been awarded a grant for their innovative propulsion system. The grant which is part of a $1 Million project which supports the development of their supply chain, will see Valiant Space upscale and deliver its non-toxic satellite propulsion technologies to domestic and international customers by overcoming barriers to market entry.  

“We have been in the process over the past 12 months of speaking with potential customers, understanding their needs and we've started to build up a list of potential first customers that we're now looking to increase our company capability to be able to meet their requirements,” said Andrew Uscinski, the CEO and co-founder of Valiant Space.

The project will focus on three key areas: flight testing, scalability, and delivery. Valiant will conduct two demonstration spaceflights of its VS-1 non-toxic thruster hardware over the duration of the one-year project.

Valiant Space was previously awarded a Demonstrator Feasibility Grant in mid-2021 by the Australian Space Agency to mature the company’s non-toxic thruster technology. The activities of the Supply Chain project will continue the development work conducted over the past year, with an emphasis on readying the VS-1 for market entry.

“[The grant] includes things like getting new machines to do more in-house manufacturing as well as clean rooms and other systems to be put in place to allow us to deliver on those orders when they come in,” said Uscinski. 

According to Uscinski, there is a huge demand for satellite propulsion systems with the increase in satellite usage. Their product which is aimed at satellite manufacturers who are building satellite constellations will provide a non-toxic alternative to current propulsion technology. Valiant hope that their thruster has the potential to save satellite manufacturers both time and money, as they won’t have to deal with toxic chemicals.

A growing company

The flight weight thruster that will provide satellite maneuvering capabilities for a range of applications. Credit: Supplied.

The grant means that Valiant will be able to develop a manufacturing capability and will require more people in the business, so it is a busy time for the company as they look to validate their product. 

“We have a multi-phased approach that we are taking with the grant. The first thing that we are doing is looking to grow the company headcount. We are hiring some new staff. We are ordering these new machines in. They take a while to come in, so we are ordering them, getting the ball rolling on those sorts of things, and concurrently organising and having flight opportunities over the next 12 months,” said Uscinski.

Michael Douw, Valiant Space’s CTO, said, “This is a success story for Valiant, and for the Australian space industry. The feasibility work we have conducted has matured into a high tech, high value, and export-ready supply chain opportunity.”

The project will see Valiant complete its first orbital flight tests, launching onboard two SpaceX missions in Q4 2022 and Q2 2023. Gaining flight heritage is a critical milestone for all aerospace companies, and these flights will seek to demonstrate the ability of the VS-1 to perform as expected when in space.

“I think what is most exciting is that we are really able to accelerate how quickly we get to the market. With all sorts of tech development, especially space tech, things take a lot of time and you know you need to be able to Iterate as quickly as possible in order to get to the market sooner rather than later. So, the fact that we are able to have this project funded will allow us to bring in the skills and also the capabilities we need, which is really what is going to see us accelerate very quickly over the next 12 months,” concluded Uscinski.

By using non-toxic chemicals and readily available propellants, Valiant aims to greatly improve the safety and reduce logistical complexities associated with launching satellites to space, without compromising on performance.