ESRIC Selects 5 Space Startups For Pre-Incubation

Anisoprint lunar rover with aniso printed suspension carbon fiber reinforcement (Photo © Anisosprint)

The European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) has announced the first five startups to benefit from its startup support programme in Esch-sur-Alzette.

Starting in April, Anisoprint, Astroport Space Technologies, Adventus Interstellar, Four Point and Orbit Recycling will join the pre-incubation stage of the programme.

This three-month process will support the startups in validating technical concepts and aligning them with market opportunities. ESRIC and its partners will give the five firms in-kind support on technical and commercial matters.

The programme is the latest initiative to support the Luxembourg newspace ecosystem, and builds on the 2016 SpaceResources.lu vision and 2018 launch of the Luxembourg Space Agency.

“We had the chance to meet the next generation of companies in the space resources sector, and were impressed by their enthusiasm, their innovative ideas and their entrepreneurial spirit,” said ESRIC programme head Lari Cujko, adding: “The 33 applications received, in a wide variety of fields, prove the interest in the sector and its economic potential,” explains Lari Cujko, in charge of the SSP at ESRIC.”

ESRIC was launched in 2020 in partnership with the European Space Agency, Luxembourg Space Agency, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology and technology incubator Technoport. According to a press release, the 33 applications received spanned 17 countries and covered the entire value chain of space resources. The selection was based on relevance to the space resource market, technology, business objectives, planning and execution and the project team. At the end of the first phase, the best project will be selected for a two-year incubation phase to confirm its technical value proposition and further develop its business model. The winning firm will be also awarded a non-repayable grant of up to €200,000 and will benefit from a third residency phase lasting a maximum of 36 months.

Dmitrii Prokopiuk, head of space development at Anisoprint, one of the five firms selected said: “Humanity will turn to the Moon for a sustainable and permanent presence. To explore and find new resources, earth technologies need to be adjusted for use in space. Anisoprint creates new space technologies in 3D printing and our team is ready to contribute to this great project and to be a participant of the ESRIC initiative.“

The cohort:

Astroport Space Technologies: Astroport uses lunar dust – or regolith – and transforms it into bricks and materials for 3D printing lunar infrastructures. Their expertise is in the areas of 3D construction printing, site preparation, regolith processing and refining, robotics and space architecture. A subsidiary of Exploration Architecture Corporation, a firm founded by space architect Sam Ximenes, Astroport was established in 2020

Anisoprint works on the development of equipment allowing 3D printing of tools, components, repair parts and structural elements made of composite materials in conditions of weightlessness and low gravity. Their project will support the development, extraction and use of space resources. A Russian startup, in 2020 Anisoprint opened European operations in Luxembourg.

Adventus Interstellar focuses on the design and construction of rover-landing systems based on tensegrity, meaning the “internal balance” of a structure due to the forces of tension and compression distributed. It wishes, thanks to this technology, to set up space deployment services at very low cost. The startup was established by young professionals out of Argentinian space competition OpenSpace in 2020.

Four Point aims to reduce the environmental impact of opencast mines through new technological innovations focused on monitoring, big data analysis, and autonomous machines for extraction and transportation. A Polish company, it launched its space resources extraction project in 2022.

Orbit Recycling aims to remove space debris from Earth’s orbit and transport it to the Moon for recycling. A German startup, it placed third in the 2021 Airbus Challenge of the Inno Space Masters for its sustainable moon exploration composite material.

ESRIC aspires to become an internationally recognised centre of expertise for scientific, technical, business and economic aspects related to the use of space resources for human and robotic exploration, as well as for a future in-space economy. “The SSP programme is part of the perspective of consolidating an ecosystem of technical and commercial players,” said ESRIC interim director Mathias Link, adding: “It is one of the four pillars of ESRIC and will contribute to promoting effective collaboration models with start-up companies and the development of technologies dedicated to the use of space resources. This initiative is essential for the development of the sector and I am delighted with the interest that this first call has generated.”

The goal is to release two calls for applications per year. The next call will be launched in June 2022. Starting 1 April 2022, renowned scientist in mineral processing and beneficiation Dr Kathryn Hadler will take up the role of ESRIC director.

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