UKSA Makes First National Space Technology Program Investments

UKSA PR — The first £8.5 million of investment from the UK’s National Space Technology Programme was announced today by the Science Minister, David Willetts. This boost to the UK space sector will match-fund a range of projects with industry to develop commercial products and services using space technology or space-derived data.

The competition is funded by the UK Space Agency, in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board and the South East England Development Agency. Proposals are sought for projects that fall into one or more of the following market areas: Satellite Telecommunications; Sensing: Position, Navigation and Timing; Robotics and Exploration and Access to Space. All projects must be collaborative, business-led and have a clear route through to commercial exploitation.


UK-Built Mars Rover Put Through Its Paces

The Bruno rover in the Mars yard. (Credit: Astrium)

UKSA PR — Earlier this month the latest Mars rover prototype developed by UK engineers demonstrated its autonomous navigation capability in a specially constructed mock-up of a Martian landscape – a ‘Mars yard’ – at Astrium’s Stevenage site.

With work on the robot’s Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system now finalised, this was the first public test of a technology that truly puts this rover – nicknamed Bruno – in a class of its own. This new class of rover will be able to decide on its own course across the Red Planet’s uneven, boulder-strewn and gully-pitted surface, identifying hazards such as rocks, slopes and drops, and plotting out the most appropriate route to a given destination. The human controllers simply provide the coordinates of a target location; the rover works out how best to get there, and trundles off.


China Leases High-Res Satellites From British Firm

DMCii PR — UK-based satellite imagery provider DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) signed a £110m [$177 million] deal with Beijing-based company 21AT, to provide access to high-resolution satellite imagery for its customers during the Chinese premier’s UK visit. 21AT will lease capacity from three new satellites that are to be launched into a new Earth Observation constellation “DMC3” which will be owned and operated by DMCii.

British Commercial Space Sector Strong as UKSA Gets Off to Slow Start

The UK space industry continues to excel in satellite communications and remote sensing technologies, with experts expecting strong growth in the years ahead. However, the nation is facing two major problems: a shortage of skilled personnel for its commercial efforts, and a flat budget and a slow start for the new United Kingdom Space Agency (USKA).

The Engineer takes a look at some of the positives:

However, according to Prof Martin Sweeting, head of space science at Surrey University and chairman of small satellite pioneer Surrey Satellites, the sector is growing faster than most other parts of the UK’s economy. ‘Studies in the UK now show that the space sector is one of the highest value-adding economic sectors,’ he said.


UK Space Industry Soars Despite Recession

Nov. 11, 2010

The British space industry has grown by nearly eight per cent through the recession and is now worth over £7.5 billion to the economy, a UK Space Agency report revealed today.

The report, ‘The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry,’ is the latest update of a biennial survey of British companies involved in the sector. It shows the space industry has grown by more than 10 per cent on average over the last two years.


UKSA Seeks Indian Cooperation on TechDemoSat, Launches CubeSat Payload Competition

Following up on a visit to India by Prime Minister David Cameron, British Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts visited the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) this week to explore deeper space collaboration between the two nations. The Deccan Herald reports:

As a first concrete example of this strengthened partnership, Willetts invited India to partner with the UK in its TechDemoSat programme.

TechDemoSat is an industry-led technology demonstration satellite which aims to provide a low-Earth-orbit test bed to help demonstrate the technical maturity and commercial viability of innovative new space technology.


UKSA Reviews Skylon and SABRE


On September 20-21st, the UK Space Agency hosted a meeting at the International Space Innovation Centre at Harwell, England to look at the feasibility of a proposal by the privately-held Reaction Engines Ltd. for the design of a single-stage to orbit launch vehicle (Skylon) and its novel propulsion concept (SABRE). The meeting brought together nearly a hundred invited experts from the UK, Europe, Russia, the US, South Korea and Japan to examine the technical and economic prospects for the technology.


UK Space Agency Signs Deals With NASA, Roscosmos

The newly created UK Space Agency signed agreements with NASA and the Russian space agency Roskosmos to facilitate join cooperation across a range of areas.

The NASA agreement “identify new cooperative activities related to Earth and space science, life sciences, and space exploration, in addition to other areas of mutual interest.”


New UK Science Minister Makes Space a Priority

With the launch of a new UK government comes a change at the top for the UK space effort. Science Minister Lord Drayson, who drove the creation of the UK Space Agency, is gone. He has been replaced by David Willetts, who has promised to pick up where his predecessor left off.

Good luck with that….


Report Lays Out Ambitious Plan for British Space Sector


Today, the Space Innovation and Growth Team (Space IGT), a joint collaboration between industry, Government, and academia, set out a 20 year vision for the UK to grow its share of the quickly expanding global space market from 6% to 10%. The majority of investment required for what will be a six-fold increase in the size of the UK’s space sector will come from industry, but Government must also play a full part in this by doubling its spend on space.


Harwell Set to Become UK’s Space Exploration Headquarters

Harwell lined up to be country’s space exploration centre
Herald Series

Harwell could become the country’s space exploration capital if a new national space agency is built in the area.

Science Minister Lord Drayson announced the creation of a new British space agency to co-ordinate research while visiting the Rutherford Appleton Space Conference at Harwell.


UK Looks to Become Hub of Space Tourism


UK to lead commercial space travel
The Engineer

The UK could be a world leader in space technology and commercial suborbital flights in 20 years, according to the British space industry’s secretary-general.

Paul Flanagan of UKspace told The Engineer Online that the UK is already a base for many leading satellite manufacturers, such as EADS Astrium and Surrey Satellites, and it could, one day, be a hub for commercial space travel.


Britain Worries About Falling Behind in Race to Space

Danger of Britain being left behind in space race
The Telegraph

Despite years of under-investment and the lack of a national space programme, the country has captured about 7pc of the space industry market.

But Andy Green, the chief executive of Logica, has warned this could be undermined as countries such as the US, India and China position their industries to benefit from the expected surge in international spending on new satellite communications technologies and software applications over the next 10 years.