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Benchmark Space Systems Opens UK Facility

By Mark Holmes | May 24, 2022

Benchmark Space Systems will leverage SA Catapult’s manufacturing and testing facilities at the Westcott Space Cluster.

Benchmark Space Systems is the latest U.S. space company to invest in the United Kingdom. The company announced May 24 that it had opened a manufacturing and testing facility northwest of London. It aims to build a regional team for its Starling and Halcyon propulsion systems to do business in what it sees as a flourishing European space sector. The move to the U.K. is built on a propulsion contract to support Space Forge’s in-space manufacturing mission.

Benchmark has secured a production and testing space in the Satellite Applications Catapult facility at the Westcott Innovation Centre in Aylesbury, England. With a current technical staff of four in place, Benchmark expects to have seven to eight U.K.-based employees this year.

Space Forge and Benchmark plan to co-develop reusable generations of Benchmark’s chemical propulsion systems to power Space Forge’s returnable and re-launchable ForgeStar satellites. The spacecraft can be deployed from conventional launchers to carry out in-space manufacturing then reliably return to Earth propelled by a variety of brief and continuous thruster burns, to enable the delivery of products and materials made in space.

Benchmark is engaged with multiple new space players in the U.K. and European market, including established satellite manufacturing and propulsion companies that are keen to explore the technical capability and benefits of its propulsion systems.

“Benchmark is thrilled to bring our flight-proven propulsion platforms, tech, and relationships to the vital European space market. We will leverage our team’s expertise abroad and, in the US, to enable an exciting mix of missions designed to help our customers and partners around the world solve key challenges, such as in-space production, space debris and collision avoidance,” Mark Arthur, director of European Operations for Benchmark Space Systems, said in a statement.