Contract signed to develop REV1 space factory

Thales Alenia Space and Space Cargo Unlimited have signed a first phase contract for the conception and production of ‘REV1’, the first floating space factory.

Thales Alenia Space

As project contractor, Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the design, engineering, and development of the REV1 vehicle. Space Cargo Unlimited will be the owner and commercial operator of the vehicle.

“By taking a central place in new space initiatives and teaming up with innovative start-ups willing to take on new challenges, Thales Alenia Space is proud to embark on a new adventure that highlights the growing strategic importance of the space sector,” said Massimo Comparini, chairman and Deputy CEO and SEVP of Observation, Exploration, and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space.

Space Cargo Unlimited plans to operate a fleet of autonomous cargo vehicles capable of returning to Earth to exploit the potential of microgravity for commercial applications on Earth.

The REV1 pressurised vehicle will be used for specific missions, particularly in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and new materials. REV1 will be able to create unique laboratory conditions and real clean rooms essential for this type of research and manufacturing.

The first REV1 vehicle, scheduled for launch in late 2025, will need to be able to adapt to any available and compatible launcher system. Designed to be reusable for a total of 20 missions, the REV1 will carry payloads for two-to-three months in space.

As part of the deal, a Space Cargo Unlimited subsidiary will be established in Turin.

“The opening of our Turin office in the coming weeks will allow us to take a position at the heart of the Italian space ecosystem, one of the most dynamic in Europe, and to work for the development of REV1 in close collaboration with Thales Alenia Space, the European leader in space infrastructure for more than 40 years,” said Nicolas Gaume, CEO and co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited.

One of the ambitions of the partnership is also to build a ‘Space Garage’ in Turin to maintain, repair, and overhaul future spacecraft operated by Space Cargo Unlimited, which was founded in 2014 as a private commercial operator of space vehicles dedicated to manufacturing in space.