A SCOTTISH research centre is entering the space industry in a move that could bring manufacture of part of a spacecraft to the UK.

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre at Inchinnan is linking with Airbus Defence and Space and welding research organisation TWI in the project aimed at bringing fuel tank manufacture to the UK.

AFRC is using its expertise in forming and forging to advise Airbus DS on advanced manufacturing methods for the tanks in the two-year collaboration funded by the European Space Agency.

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Innovative technologies will be introduced to massively reduce material wastage of expensive metals such as titanium and slash machining time costs.

AFRC will look at making the design more efficient and economical by producing the initial component at as near to its final shape as possible.

Airbus DS currently purchases its fuel tanks from Germany or the US. Key to the project is bringing production back to the UK, where they were previously made, and sharing outputs with the wider supply chain.

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The AFRC is one of many organisations tapping into Scotland’s growing space sector as it has recently been revealed that more small satellites are built in Glasgow than anywhere else in Europe, while the UK’s first spaceport is set to be built in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.

Dr Jill Miscandlon, heading up the project at the AFRC, said: “Airbus DS is at the forefront of the industry and this collaboration sees us looking at the components needed to make the propellant tanks and advising on potential manufacturing methods.”

Renato Bellarosa, of Airbus DS, said: “There is also export potential in the successful completion of this programme. We have customers overseas who are big players in satellite manufacture whom we believe would be interested in this new manufacturing approach.”