International satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing startups find great partners in Taiwan

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

International SpaceTech Startups Launchpad Recap Party. Credit: TAcc+

Taiwan's strength in hardware manufacturing has attracted satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing startups to the island, searching for supply chain partners as well as expanding their presence for potential customers in the region.

HEX20 Pty Ltd., ONE3D s.r.o., deltaVision GmbH, Spacemanic, and Transcend Satellite Technology LLP are the five out of 16 SpaceTech startups joining the Taiwan Accelerator Plus (TAcc+) International SpaceTech Startup Supporting Program in August 2023. The advisor of the program is the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA), and the program is organized by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and TAcc+.

Those 5 startups were among the 16 selected out of the 46 SpaceTech startups that applied for the program. After a two-stage review, 16 international SpaceTech startups made it to the finals and came to Taiwan from August 15 to September 16, 2023 to engage with domestic industrial chains in the areas of satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing, space infrastructure and microgravity application, satellite service and space mission operations.

deltaVision GmbH

Germany-based startup deltaVision was founded by three engineers, each with more than 10 years of experience in the European space & aircraft industry, particularly the Ariane launcher and the European Service Module programs. The founders cover the domains of mechanical and electrical design, software development, systems engineering, and management.

It also provides fluidic propulsion systems for space launchers, spacecraft, and other high-energy vehicles. It is seeking opportunities to work with Taiwanese suppliers for space-related electronics (it has signed an NDA with Letscom) and PCBs.

DeltaVision offers standardized embedded products and services to master functional propulsive systems of space transportation vehicles and also hydrogen-based aviation. With deltaVision smart valves, pressure regulators and pumps, they solve complex fluid control challenges for global customers.

DeltaVision created scalable products that can be quickly tailored to specific applications and strongly reduce costs and lead times. Some of its technology, such as the Health Monitoring technology or the cryogenic Regulation Valves, is disruptive in its domain and will shape the space transportation eco-system towards re-usability and advanced use cases.

"Taiwan is a promising location to secure a solid supply chain and to achieve commercial collaboration before further expansion in Asia," said Alex Plebuch, CEO and co-founder, who added that the company will exhibit a highly reactive solenoid valve for orbital propulsion systems and videos on their disruptive cryogenic regulation valve technology at the Taipei International Aerospace & Defense Industry Exhibition (TADTE) from September 14th to 16th.

During his visit to Taiwan, CEO Alex Plebuch came across a metal parts supplier at the International Fluid Power Exhibition in Taipei. The supplier, Jyu Lun Motion can provide the ball screws that deltaVision needs for its fluidic propulsion applications. Plebuch said Taiwan has amazing capabilities in manufacturing and these metal parts are really hard to find in Europe.

He is also looking to work with Metal Industry Research & Development Center and ITRI for material research. In addition, deltaVision has been in close contact with Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) as well for potential future collaboration in assisting TASA in carrying out both short-term and long-term development plans. DeltaVision said if things go well, it will set up a subsidiary here in Taiwan.

HEX20 Pty Ltd

HEX20 was founded by a team of four individuals, Lloyd Jacob Lopez, Ashwin Chandran, Dr. Amal Chandra, and Dr. Aaron Pereira. These founders all studied in the same high school in Trivandrum, Kerala, which is renowned for being home to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and each bring over two decades of experience to the company.

HEX20 delivers cost-effective and modular small satellite platforms ranging from 3U to 27U, as well as educational Flatsat systems that are fully functional satellites which were derived from their commercial SmallSat systems meant for educational and engineering evaluation.

HEX20 can deliver turnkey satellite mission solutions which include spacecraft design, fabrication, integration testing, launch services, ground station services and data management based on customer requirements. Their modular and scalable buses help customers design, build, test, launch and operate nanosatellites and micro-satellite missions in the range of 50 to 250 kilograms. These may include defense and commercial missions, with support for nonstandard payloads.

They also provide secure and reliable ground station operations, data management and customized flexible data access through cloud.

HEX20 aims to forge partnerships, leverage regional potential, and contribute to the growth of the Asia Pacific space industry while simultaneously meeting specific mission objectives that align with the region's needs during their visit to Taiwan.

HEX20 has signed a contract with Aegiverse and National Central University to work on fiber-optic gyroscopes. The Australia-based space startup added that it was getting into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help another Taiwanese company, TaiCrystal, to qualify their products for space use. HEX20 is also in talks with Tron Future and TiSpace for partnerships. According to HEX20 CEO Lloyd Jacob, the space sector is seeing an acute bottleneck for certain products, such as solar cells, and long lead times as geopolitical risks escalate. Jacob added that Taiwan's capability to manufacture precision electronics is something that the space industry can benefit from, and from Taiwan, these components can be shipped worldwide.

In order to collaborate with Taiwanese suppliers and to stabilize the supply chain, HEX20 is one of the many startups which plan to set up an office and R&D team in Taiwan.

ONE3D s.r.o.

ONE3D was founded in 2015 by 2 brothers Tomáš Dokoupil, (CEO) and Filip Dokoupil, (CVO). The company first focused on rapid prototyping for the automotive industry using SLS technology. In 2020 it opened a new Center of Additive Manufacturing and added SLA and MJF technologies to its plastic parts portfolio.

In 2021 a third co-founder David Paloušek joined the ONE3D group, leading to the expansion of the services with DMLS technology. For the last 3 years, the company focused on cooperation with defense and aerospace companies. Nowadays ONE3D is a strong team with almost 50 members, a reliable partner in advanced manufacturing. They offer a combination of additive manufacturing with post-processes including CNC machining (milling), vacuum smoothing, dip dyeing, spray painting, plating and many others.

ONE3D developed the process of production of CubeSats frames using additive manufacturing combined with CNC machining (milling) according to the ESA standards. They offer customized solutions for the production of 1U-27U CubeSats. Due to its strong relationship with Czech automotive companies, it can help in rapid prototyping and batch production for space vehicle producers.

ONE3D visited Taiwan earlier this year with the Czech government delegation and the Czech Taiwanese Business Chamber (CTBC), along with more than a hundred of other Czech companies. ONE3D's business development manager Jan Prusa revealed that the company has just completed an internal project of product development and this time, he would be looking for suppliers who can provide them with the components needed in a fast and cost-effective way. Prusa said the space program has come up at a very good time. The company now has customers in the UK, US, and South Korea; it has previously signed a MoU with American defense company Lockheed Martin. ONE3D is now currently researching smooth metal parts from aluminum to stainless steel and the team is open for collaboration.

ONE3D expects to start the discussion with Taiwanese companies that focus on the production of nano and small satellites, as well as with companies and institutions related to UAV and drone production. They are open to conversations with all companies related to Space, Aerospace and Defense. Last but not least they would like to start the discussion with US and EU defense companies who will be presented at TADTE.

During their participation in the TADTE, they will introduce their solution for customized CubeSats for 1-27U frames from aluminum alloys. They would also like to contact Taiwan UAV and drone producers as they have experience in this field.

Spacemanic Ltd.

Spacemanic was represented by Branch Manager Ondrej Farkas. The members of the company have more than 15 years of experience in the space tech field. Spacemanic is strong in the field of design, development, and testing of fundamental nanosatellite components, such as onboard computer, GPS/GNSS, UHF and VHF radio, power systems units, and solar panels.

Their expectations for coming to Taiwan include business expansion, networking and partnerships, technical exchange, and building government relations.

The company is looking forward to finding partners in Taiwan to develop satellite manufacturing and space technology applications and partnerships. Ondrej Farkas, Spacemanic's business liaison and engineer, visited Taiwan's Science and Technology Innovation Base (TTA) in the southern part of the country to take advantage of the opportunity to learn about Taiwan's companies and business opportunities, as well as to learn more about Taiwan's current space technology and industry development opportunities. In the past, he has purchased GPS modules and semiconductor chips from Taiwanese manufacturers for GPS applications.

Spacemanic has already launched five nanosatellites since 2017 and expects to launch three more nanosatellites in the next year. In addition, Spacemanic is actively planning for the future moon landing program and is currently hoping to start a cooperation program with professors from the Central University in Taiwan, in the hope of identifying more nanosatellite cooperation opportunities. In the future, Spacemanic will further participate in TAcc+'s new innovation program in Taiwan, in order to identify more potential new opportunities for cooperation with Taiwan. In the future, Spacemanic will further participate in TAcc+'s Taiwan Innovation Program to find more new linking opportunities with Taiwan's unlimited potential.

Spacemanic's products have flight heritage (TRL-9). With five satellites in orbit, multiple returning customers. Its component design is modular and plug-and-play, which allows it to quickly adapt to customer's needs.

Spacemanic participated on six successful missions in Slovak and Czech Republic. As for now they have three new missions prepared which two of them will be launched in 2023 and the third will be launched in 1Q24. One of the most successful cases Spacemanic participated in is GRB Alpha satellite which was mentioned also by NASA.

The team said Taiwan may be a strategic location for future operations or partnerships, and the visit this year aims to lay the groundwork for such plans.

They also plan to meet suppliers to ensure the quality and reliability of components or materials sourced for their projects.

Transcend Satellite Technology LLP

Transcend Satellite Technology LLP is a space tech start-up company founded in 2019. Transcend provides end-to-end satellite design solutions for CubeSats and small satellites, including payload design for communication, earth observation, remote sensing and IoT domains.

'Mission Design' to 'launch' satellite solutions involves concept design, defining mission requirements, mission design with orbit simulations, system design, and development, manufacturing and fabrication assistance, assembly integration and testing (AIT) of satellites, through to launch, using a modular approach.

Transcend believes in making space achievable for everyone by providing cost-effective space solutions for commercial customers and universities. Transcend is also working with several space education companies with the aim of outreach of space technologies to students.

Transcend is working on in-house product development projects including satellite platform development from 1U to 24U Communication payload based on SDR and IOT technologies. Development of ADCS solutions for 6U, 12U, and 27U class of satellites. Patentable ground station software for UHF/VHF spectral band.

Transcend Satellite Technology LLP prioritizes affordability and efficiency in its satellite platforms. By designing and constructing cost-effective systems, it makes space technology more accessible, enabling more organizations and researchers to embark on celestial journeys. Transcend Satellite Technology LLP excels at orchestrating the integration of complex payloads into satellite platforms.

Its Roadmap is to achieve space heritage by 2024. Transcend has developed a 1U CubeSat with a unique "single board satellite" concept, which will enable more volume and power for payload accommodation in small CubeSats.

The company is working on developing software-defined radio for satellite communication, which will reduce RF Hardware dependency and can accommodate multiple frequency bands.

During their visit to Taiwan, they hope to find industry partners for payload development and satellite platform design, development, and manufacturing, collaborate with Taiwan universities to provide space education and skill development and launch student satellites, as well as understand Taiwan Space Agency requirements on technology and payload developments.

Transcend Satellite said they are ready to sign a few MoUs with Taiwanese players in designing and manufacturing satellites for both educational and commercial purposes. The company provides an end-to-end solution and hands-on training from concept and payload design to launch.

TADTE 2023

TADTE 2023
Photo: TAcc+