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 as a family-owned company 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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Bradford Engineering has provided a number of large glovebox facilities to the International Space Station. Most notably the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) which has seen more than 30,000 operational hours since its launch in 2002 and is one of the most used facilities on the space station.

In 1994, Bradford Engineering 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 2016 Bradford Engineering was acquired by the American Industrial Acquisition Corporation (AIAC), a privately-held industrial group, headquartered in the USA. 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 this High Performance Green Propellant (HPGP) was carried out by the Swedish defense research organization, and in the early 2000s ECAPS was established to commercialise the technology.

The first spacecraft carrying ECAPS thrusters, PRISMA, was launched into space in 2010, 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. The first of these spacecraft started launching in 2016.

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

In 2018, with the acquisition of Deep Space Industries (DSI), the Comet water-based propulsion systems and the Explorer satellite platform were added to the Bradford Space product portfolio. Comet is a launch-safe and cost-effective electro-thermal propulsion system that offers the ideal balance of cost and performance, and used on CubeSat-level spacecraft by customers such as Capella Space, HawkEye 360, LeoStella and SFL. This high performance propulsion unit uses water as propellant, making the system easy to work with and easy to fuel.

More ambitiously, DSI has developed Explorer, a low-cost deep space bus that allows 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.

With the DSI acquisition, Bradford Space continues to build a world-leading position in non-toxic propulsion, providing an outlet and location for activities in the US space market and a position for broad activity in deep space.

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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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