By 2030, will an organisation be manufacturing products in Earth orbit?
116
21k
2030
58%
chance

The process should be a going concern. It doesn't need to be profit-making by 2030, but the company must be routinuely operating their in-orbit factories/manufacturing facilities.

As a reference, one can look at the plans of Space Forge, but I will try to take an expansive view of what qualifies.

A clairification comment:

"So it looks like I'll need to make some sort of ruling on Varda. The key word is 'routine'. What I'd always been imagining was a successful repeat of a normal flight mode, rather than a test flight or a proof-of-concept flight. It's easy to say that the first flight is automatically a test (and does not count towards the two flights necessary for a 'repeat'). What's a bit trickier is subsequent flights. If Varda themselves describe the/a second flight as still a test, that's easy enough (to discount it). If they don't, then we'll have to consider the evidence of whether they are actually selling the 'products' they are making.

Obviously, the same criteria will be applied to other companies (at least those using this kind of model)."

Get Ṁ600 play money
Sort by:
opened a Ṁ3,000 YES at 41% order

added a 3k limit for YES at 41%, if anyone wants to bet more.

Optical fibre is being produced on the ISS. These are still framed as tests/experiments of some kind, but very much seem to be working towards commercial production:

https://spacenews.com/flawless-photonics-kicking-glass/

Silicon Valley startup Flawless Photonics has produced more than 5 kilometers of ZBLAN on the International Space Station in two weeks.

It’s an achievement that eluded other companies that tried to produce the fluoride glass in microgravity.

For in-space manufacturing, Flawless Photonics’ accomplishment “is in a class by itself,” Lynn Harper, strategy lead for NASA ISS InSpace Production Applications, told SpaceNews. “They have successfully manufactured commercial lots of ZBLAN in space. They’ve done it repeatedly.”

[...]

Samples of ZBLAN produced by Flawless Photonics are scheduled to return to Earth on a SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Services flight in April. At that time, NASA and an independent third party will study the quality and composition of the optical fibers produced on ISS.

Whatever those evaluations determine, Hernandez said, it’s important to note that Flawless Photonics already has demonstrated the ability to manufacture ZBLAN in microgravity.

“As someone that has done product manufacturing for a long time, I see a product that needs verification,” Hernandez said. “But I already see the manufacturing that has been working for over a year and a half on the ground and now has been demonstrated on station.”

@JoshuaWilkes - what's your idea on how such a production process would be evaluated in this market?

@cjames it should apply; the key words are 'routinely' and 'product', rather than 'once' and 'prototype'.

Is commertial manufacturing on space stations (either ISS, or Tiangong) not scientific experiments.

I.e. cubesats launching by nanoracks, but supplying by cargo ISS mission.

Will same thing count if some commertial company will sell products for profit in same fashion?

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/aerospace-and-defense/our-insights/the-potential-of-microgravity-how-companies-across-sectors-can-venture-into-space

After reading this it seems there will be quite a lag between R&D and product commercialization based on my understanding of the current state of affairs. The time necessary to develop a marketable product in space plus that their is no tested infrastructure yet means I am betting NO.

@JoshuaWilkes Somehow the comments in that article devolved into about the Ukraine war, but there was one good comment about it being a solution in search of a problem.

predicts YES

I think continued operation of a single facility should count as "routine". Should not be a one-off manufacturing run, obviously, but I don't think "routine" should require multiple launches. If Varda is selling products produced continuously over an extended time period, I would argue that should count.

@chrisjbillington oh, I agree. If a company sends up a single station that is periodically sending down its product (and presumably also being resupplied), that would count. However this current Varda mission is only capable of one-off runs.

So it looks like I'll need to make some sort of ruling on Varda. The key word is 'routine'. What I'd always been imagining was a successful repeat of a normal flight mode, rather than a test flight or a proof-of-concept flight. It's easy to say that the first flight is automatically a test (and does not count towards the two flights necessary for a 'repeat'). What's a bit trickier is subsequent flights. If Varda themselves describe the/a second flight as still a test, that's easy enough (to discount it). If they don't, then we'll have to consider the evidence of whether they are actually selling the 'products' they are making.

Obviously, the same criteria will be applied to other companies (at least those using this kind of model).

predicts YES

https://twitter.com/zebulgar/status/1668392602272694274

"THE WORLD'S FIRST SPACE FACTORY HAS WINGS

WE HAVE DEPLOYED TO SPACE!!!!"

predicts YES

@PeterBuyukliev The Rocket Lab-designed and built Photon spacecraft will provide power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control for Varda’s 120 kg in-space manufacturing satellite which will produce high-value products in zero-gravity and return them to Earth in a re-entry capsule. In addition to providing on-orbit support during the in-space manufacturing phase of Varda’s mission, the Photons will place Varda’s hypersonic re-entry capsule, carrying the finished products, on a return trajectory to markets on Earth using Photon’s 3D-printed Curie engine.

Varda?

Due to „products“ I assume it needs to be something which is sold later. Using a 3d printer in space is not enough.

@MaxPayne yes.