In a bid to develop the country’s space industry, the private satellite and space technologies firm ‘mu Space’ has raised funds to build Thailand’s first spaceship and plans to start construction in 2021.
Looking similar in design to SpaceX’s Starship – the huge stainless steel “silo” that Musk hopes will reach Mars one day soon – the ship was unveiled during a soft opening event of the first spaceship factory in Thailand on 25th December, 2020.
The spaceship will be multi-purpose and can be used for ISS resupply, Earth orbit and cis-lunar missions, say the 3-year-old Thai firm.
It will utilise a new type of ballistic resistance armour in its construction which is currently being tested to assess its ability to withstand damage from fast-speeding space debris.
The company envision the spaceship could be built in one to two years.
Speaking at the opening, ‘mu Space’ CEO, Varayuth Yenbamroong said that the recently raised funds will be used “to quickly build a large-scale factory to produce and assemble the first spaceship of Thailand.”
In addition, satellite parts and commercial spaceships for domestic affairs, communications, robotic testing, autonomous system testing for unmanned vehicles to be used on the Moon mission will also be built along with a locally made Global Positioning System (GPS).
The factory will be equipped with a 5G communication system added Yenbamroong and it will also serve as a platform to develop “Space Internet Data Center (IDC)” technologies.
“Space IDC” is a joint project between ‘mu Space’ Corp and TOT Public Company Limited, and aims to provide a data centre service with a server being located in outer space. A simulation of the “Space IDC” will be tested in the first quarter of 2021.
“mu Space’ said it is planning to build 11 gateway stations initially in Bangkok to operate a prospective Low Earth Orbit Satellite (LEO). The firm is also while preparing to propose up to eight projects with NASA in the beginning of 2021. Last year the firm proposed projects such as Health Monitoring System in Space, a Precision Landing System, Dehumidifying Inner Gloves and an Inflatable Solar Array Structure (ISAS).
Its recently submitted Tipping Point Solicitation Project passing the first hearing and there is “a good chance that ‘mu Space’ will be awarded with the project contract” said Yenbamroong.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ‘mu Space’ is planning to hire about 100 staff to create skilled labourers, in line with the national space technology and industry development plan. The first 50 positions will be selected in the first quarter of 2021.
The value of ‘mu Space’ has increased to more than $100 million through a Series B fundraising, say the firm, with investors that along with TOT Public Company Limited include Dow Chemical Group, SCG, Nice Apparel Group, B.Grimm Group, Majuven Fund and investors from the UCLA Foundation.
“We are moving forward into a new era by planning to develop space technologies for future space travel,” say “mu Space”. “However, building a spaceship with a complexity of technologies is one of the challenging tasks that a company wants to achieve, it might take 1-2 years to complete, mu Space is the first and only company who steps into this path and strives to make things happen. If we don’t start it now, then when?”