SmallSpark secures Ministry of Defence contract to optimise rocket engine performance through AI

SmallSpark Space Systems, a Cardiff based aerospace and space technology venture, has secured a development contract with the UK’s Ministry of Defence, via the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to use its Moore.AI technology to accelerate development of novel solid rocket motor configurations, for a broad range of applications.


The proposal, which has seen significant support from the MOD, is one of the first to explore the direct application of AI-based assistive tools to engineers in the defence industry tackling novel problems without historical datasets.


The contract, worth £292,565.75, within DASA’s Rapid Innovation Cycle, will see Moore.AI’s optimisation technologies adapted to tackle instabilities identified within the early stages of solid rocket motor design, and has the potential to radically alter traditional approaches to developing complex engineering systems.


SmallSpark is set to double the size of its software and technology demonstration teams, along with investing in additional in-house infrastructure and capabilities.


Joseph Ward, SmallSpark CEO & Director of Propulsion, said: “Moore.AI is an extremely powerful technology that aims to change the way we think about and approach systems engineering and design.


“Our goal is to improve engineers’ productivity by helping them avoid arduous manual design iteration. The development process for a rocket motor for use by the MOD can take upwards of 10 years; we’re aiming to reduce that by 25- 50% by utilising novel, carefully constructed optimisation technologies, developed here at SmallSpark for our own space systems.”


Saif Al-Ibadi, Director of AI & Optimisation Technologies, said: “We are extremely excited at SmallSpark to showcase the amazing capabilities of Moore.AI. Using a cutting-edge solution, it presents a new approach for solving engineering problems and designs.


“Working on a project for DASA and the MOD is a great opportunity to show the novel optimisation technologies that we have been working on for the past few years that will change the engineering and design industry.”

The team at SmallSpark Space Systems

Originally developed with Research England backing in collaboration with The University of Southampton, Moore.AI has only publicly been used for aerodynamic design optimisation, until now.


The project sees SmallSpark return to the renowned Westcott Venture Park, testing a range of Solid Rocket Motor design architectures.


The SmallSpark team historically had a presence at the Westcott Venture Park, working on the demonstration and continued test campaign of its S4-HIVE rocket engines.