Our History

Bradford Space’s history encompasses the story and work of three companies, in the Netherlands, Sweden and the US, all founded to build quality engineered systems and disrupt key markets in high performance fields.

The first company, Bradford Engineering, the company from which the group gets its name, was founded in 1984 in the town of Putte, in the south of the Netherlands. What started with a focus in nuclear activities shifted quickly to human spaceflight and satellite systems. The first gloveboxes, systems to allow humans to safety manipulate experiments in space, were built for NASA and ESA Space Shuttle missions and started flying into space from 1992 onwards.

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In 1994, Bradford started developing products for the commercial satellite and spacecraft markets, notably valves, heat exchangers, flow meters, pressure transducers, and fans. Later, by the mid-2000s, the company had diversified further, into satellite attitude and orbit control subsystems (sun sensors, reaction wheels), into propulsion subsystems and into space thermal systems. These products formed the basis of the main part of Bradford’s business until today, with over 2000 products launched to space and counting.

In 1997, Bradford moved to Heerle, near Roosendaal, where the company acquired the facilities in which it operates to this day.

Up until 2011, Bradford was family owned. That year, a decision was made to sell the company to Moog, a large publicly traded U.S. headquartered manufacturer of precision instruments.

In 2016, a decision was made to sell the company again, this time to AIAC, the American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, a privately-held industrial group, also headquartered in the U.S. It was under AIAC that the current Bradford Space began to take form. Under AIAC, Bradford started acquiring companies and also formed ‘Bradford Workspaces’, a business unit to rebrand and reimagine the glovebox line for the commercial space industry.

The second company, ECAPS, was founded as a builder of non-toxic propulsion systems based on ammonium dinitramide (ADN), a substance first studied in depth in the 1990s. The high energy content and stability of the ADN substance, and derivative propellant blends, was found to make it ideal for high performance monopropellant systems and a major candidate to replace hydrazine based systems. Research into the propellant was carried out by FOI, the Swedish defense research organization, and in the early 2000s a company to commercialise the technology, ECAPS, was formed as a subsidiary of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC). Operations were established in Solna, a suburb of Stockholm.

By 2010, the first spacecraft carrying ECAPS thrusters, PRISMA, was launched into space, proving the viability of the system. In 2014, a major milestone contract was landed with Silicon Valley-based Skybox Imaging, agreeing to equip at least a dozen spacecraft with ECAPS thrusters. These spacecraft started launching in 2016, with 13 launched to space so far.

In July 2017, Bradford acquired ECAPS from SSC, resulting in Bradford’s expansion into full, non-toxic propulsion systems. Prior to the acquisition, Bradford had been providing pressure transducers to each ECAPS thruster.

The third company, Deep Space Industries, Inc. (DSI) was founded in 2012 by thirteen founders as an ambitious venture to mine the asteroids and benefit from the riches of the solar system. Hailed as part of a new wave of companies seeking to conduct economic activities in space, DSI raised venture capital, established itself in Silicon Valley and hired a stellar technical team, many of whom came from the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto.

Most successful of the products DSI developed was the Comet water-based propulsion system, used on CubeSat-level spacecraft by customers such as Capella Space, HawkEye 360, LeoStella and SFL More ambitiously, DSI developed Xplorer, a low-cost deep space bus that allowed for more robust exploration and prospecting of the solar system. Finally, DSI also established an office in Luxembourg to pursue products in deep space avionics.

In 2019, Bradford announced that it had acquired control over DSI, building a world-leading position in non-toxic propulsion, providing an outlet and location for activities in the U.S. space market and a position for broad activity in deep space.

Click here to view Bradford ECAPS.

Capabilities

In-house design, engineering, production and test capabilities (electrical and mechanical). View full capabilities.

Certifications

Certified to ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100:2016 standards. View full certifications by clicking here.

Founded in 1984

Bradford has been inovating in the space industry for over three decades. Learn about our history.

Space Program Focus

With over 100 launches in space to date, we focus on off-the-shelf solution for satellite and space needs.

Over 75 Employees

The Bradford team consists of the world's top talent in the aerospace field. View career openings.

ECAPS

Design, manufacturing, testing and integration of both HPGP thrusters and complete liquid propulsion systems.

We are ready to handle your specific customer needs.

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