Manufacturing beyond Earth: COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge Started

A leader in large-scale industrial 3D printing, a market leader in space logistics and the European Space Agency teamed up to launch a new Grand Challenge: The COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge.
Starting from today, 26 May 2023, you can apply to COSMIC LFAM – ESA Grand Challenge until 1 July 2023.

ESA, Caracol, and D-Orbit designed COSMIC LFAM with two objectives:

  1. The development of a fundamental Low-Earth-Orbit economy enabler. A 3D printing technique for composite materials that may be employed in low-gravity or microgravity settings.
  2. The implementation of on Earth and the terrestrial by-products that such evolution may improve, such as dependability or power consumption, of the equivalent process on Earth.

If you are an SME registered in one of the ESA Member, Cooperating or Associate States, apply to compete in the COSMIC LFAM ESA Grand Challenge and get your chance to win 100,000 EUR, by applying until 1 July 2023. It’s the ability to offer design freedom in space that would make your ambitious team the winner.

Are you ready to compete to ignite the in-orbit economy?

Competing teams of COSMIC LFAM – ESA Grand Challenge are reminded to first carefully read the terms and conditions of the ESA Grand Challenge, then submit your application by sending it to

The world of large-scale 3D printing is now associated with the concepts of quality and optimisation, on Earth. ESA is committed to support your team to achieve the same, in space.
A future where advanced in-orbit manufacturing can be applied to nearly any product is a more abundant, sustainable future. Globally, we are going to need robust, resilient, and broadly capable 3D printing technologies that are not afraid of the uncontrolled space environment. A future where the traditional constraints of a space mission, volume, mass, power budgets, could become a memory if your team will be able to adapt Caracol’s robotic manufacturing system to the space environment.

ABOUT Caracol

Caracol was founded with the vision of pushing the limits of additive manufacturing in terms of scale, efficiency, and sustainability. The company accomplished this by developing an integrated technological platform: Heron AM. This system includes both hardware and software, to produce advanced large-scale components with composite materials. Through the integration of a patented extrusion head, the development of a dedicated software, and the use of robotic arms as movement support, Caracol offers an additive manufacturing technology for advanced components for customers in industries such as aerospace, marine, energy, design, and architecture.

The company manufactures parts for leading international companies, such as jigs and molds to produce aircraft components, finished parts for yacht and boat superstructures, and revolutionary projects to initiate virtuous circular economy processes in sectors such as energy or design. Today the company has opened the largest LFAM production center in Europe and has a core team of more than 50 young professionals highly specialized in areas such as mechanical engineering, automation, computational design, design for additive, and advanced manufacturing processes.


D-Orbit is a market leader in the space logistics and transportation services industry with a track record of space-proven services, technologies, and successful missions. Founded in 2011, D-Orbit is the first company addressing the logistics needs of the space market. ION Satellite Carrier, for example, is a space vehicle that can transport satellites in orbit and release them individually into distinct orbital slots, reducing the time from launch to operations by up to 85% and the launch costs of an entire satellite constellation by up to 40%. ION can also accommodate multiple third-party payloads like innovative technologies developed by start-ups, experiments from research entities, and instruments from traditional space companies requiring a test in orbit. The whole, fully redundant ION can be rented for edge computing applications and space cloud services to provide satellite operators with storage capacity and advanced computing capabilities in orbit.

D-Orbit’s roadmap includes becoming a relevant player in the in-orbit servicing market, which is forecasted to become one of the largest, growing markets within the space sector. D-Orbit has offices in Italy, Portugal, the UK, and the US; its commitment to pursuing business models that are profitable, friendly for the environment, and socially beneficial, led D-Orbit S.p.A. to become the first certified B-Corp space company in the world.

Fig. The Extruder – Caracol Technology. Picture source: Caracol website