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TWI Helps Achieve World’s First Autonomous In-Space Weld

Tue, 21 May, 2024

TWI and ThinkOrbital Inc have performed the first ever autonomous weld in space following the development of a space-ready electron beam welding system.

A test mission took place on 6 May, 2024, with the world’s first autonomous in-space welding system loaded onto Falcon 9 to create ground-breaking flown-in-space electron beam welding samples that have now been returned to Earth where they will be analysed by NASA and the European Space Agency.

The journey to achieving this included the design and build of the autonomous in-orbit welding system, the first of its kind. The system underwent extensive and rigorous vibration, shock and thermal testing ahead of the successful launch and landing.

This is a real milestone in the journey towards mature technologies being used for the autonomous assembly of space stations in a single launch. The innovation also opens up the potential for advances in satellite servicing, space debris processing, in-space manufacturing, on-orbit storage and refuelling, space tourism and scientific research.

This suborbital recoverable payload welding experiment is the first in a planned series of test flights, with flight number 2 due to follow.

TWI’s 50+ years of experience in electron beam welding left us perfectly placed to assist and advise ThinkOrbital in the development of the system, which looks set to impact infrastructure and manufacturing in space.

Colin Ribton, TWI’s Technology Fellow in Power Beams commented, “At TWI we were excited by the challenges of designing and making an electron beam gun for welding in orbit. It’s great that ThinkOrbital have now deployed this, and we can’t wait to see what this means for the future of space infrastructure.”

About ThinkOrbital

ThinkOrbital Inc is a leading space infrastructure developer that is developing cutting-edge autonomous in-space assembly and welding capabilities. The company’s flagship product, the ThinkPlatform, is a single-launch configured multi-mission space platform that can support a wide range of private and public sector needs, including satellite servicing, space debris removal, in-space manufacturing, research missions, on-orbit storage and refuelling, and even space tourism. You can find out more about ThinkOrbital at

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