UK Space Technologies to Boost NHS Coronavirus Response

LONDON (UK Government PR) — The UK space industry has some of the brightest minds in the country and is well placed to support the unprecedented national effort to overcome the biggest threat the UK has faced for decades.

Satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, managing infectious disease outbreaks and supporting the health and wellbeing of the nation.

An initial £2.6 million is being made available to fund a number of projects to develop hi-tech solutions to these challenges, in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of NHS England.

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Virgin Orbit Partners to Use Japanese Airport for Launches

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 taxis down runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port with the LauncherOne booster under its wing. Northrop Grumman’s Stargazer L-1011 aircraft, which also air launches the Pegasus XL rocket, can be seen in the background. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

OITA, Japan/LONG BEACH, Calif., April 2, 2020 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, the California-based small satellite launch company, has announced a new partnership with Oita Prefecture to bring horizontal launch to Japan.

With the support of regional partners ANA Holdings Inc. and the Space Port Japan Association, Virgin Orbit has identified Oita Airport as its preferred pilot launch site — yet another addition to the company’s growing global network of horizontal launch sites — in pursuit of a mission to space from Japan as early as 2022. 

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UK Space Sector Working Together on Response to Coronavirus

LONDON (UK Government PR) — The Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency and the President and Chair of the UKspace trade body met virtually last week to discuss the space sector’s response to Covid-19.

The UK space sector employs 42,000 people and generates an income of £14.8 billion each year, while supporting £300 billion of wider economic activity through other industries with satellite services such as navigation, communications and Earth observation. Space is part of the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure and has in-built resilience due to the autonomous nature of many orbital operations, the relatively low number of specialist staff required for ongoing operations, and multiple contingencies.

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400 Marsquakes Detected by UK Sensors in One Year

This image from InSight’s robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft’s deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. The image was received on Dec. 4, 2018 (Sol 8). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The NASA InSight lander, which is supported by the UK Space Agency, has recorded 400 likely ‘Marsquakes’ in the first year of its mission.

The seismic vibrations on Mars were detected by a set of silicon sensors developed in the UK for InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

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Shetland Space Centre Receives Initial £2 Million Investment Boost

HAROLDSWICK, Scotland — Shetland Space Centre’s (SSC) plan to build and operate a satellite launch site has been given a major boost by a £2,050,000 [$2.65 million] investment from Leonne International, the international private equity firm.

The cash injection, which gives Leonne a 20 per cent stake in the business, will be used for future growth of the company, such as the development of the launch site and ground station in Unst.

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UK’s First Industrial Contribution to International Space Station Ready for Launch

COLka undergoing testing in the Hertz test chamber at the European Space Agency in The Netherlands. COLKa’s radio signals are being recorded. The blue spikes isolate the room from electromagnetic interference, recreating the radio frequencies of space. (Credit: ESA–M. Cowan)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (UK Space Agency PR) — UK-built technology that will revolutionise the science astronauts carry out on the International Space Station is due to launch today (15 February).

Called COLKa for ‘Columbus Ka-band Terminal’, the system will allow astronauts and researchers to benefit from a direct link with Europe at home broadband speeds, relaying data from experiments on the ISS back to Earth almost instantaneously.

The fridge-sized device is due to launch aboard a Cygnus supply ship from Wallops Island, Virginia just before 9pm UK time on Friday. Two astronauts will carry out a spacewalk later this year to mount it to the outside of the Columbus module on the ISS.

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UKspace Welcomes Government’s Renewed Funding Commitment to ESA

HARWELL, UK, 27 November 2019 (UKspace PR) – UKspace has welcomed today’s announcement by the UK Government that it will increase its funding commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) by more than 15% from its current contribution to £374 million per year.

The timing of the announcement coincides with the ESA Ministerial Summit which began in Seville today.

“We are extremely encouraged by the UK Government’s renewed investment in ESA and the associated European space programmes,” said UKspace Chair, Graham Peters.

“As we stated in our recently-published UKspace 2020 Manifesto, ESA funding provides the assurance we require to plan and deliver, since space is a long-term business. Previous spending through ESA has always delivered excellent returns for UK business, and this commitment will enable our sector to continue developing and manufacturing the space technologies, capability and supply chains needed to secure the UK’s role in the global space market.”

Graham added: “For the UK space industry to continue its upward curve – which has seen it secure more than 5% of the global space economy in recent years – ongoing Government support is critical. Looking ahead, we hope that this decision will be further backed up by the establishment of a National Space Programme designed to ensure the UK space sector plays an increasingly prominent role in the global space market, building cross-country partnerships and exporting knowledge and equipment.”

UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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Cornwall Council Approves $13.2 Million Grant for Virgin Orbit Project

Cosmic Girl performs first captive carry with LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Over strenuous environmental protests, the Cornwall Council approved a £10.3 million ($13.2 million) grant to fund improvements at Cornwall Airport Newquay to accommodate air launches by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit.

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UKspace Seeks More Government Support in 2020 Manifesto

UKspace, the trade association that represents the United Kingdom’s space industry, and has issued a manifesto calling for more support for the sector.

It is reproduced below.

UKspace 2020 Manifesto

What the sector needs to compete in the new space race

The 1969 moon landing came after John F. Kennedy boldly set out to overtake the Soviet Union in the space race. In 2019, there is an entirely different contest occurring as rival nations set their sights on the rapidly growing global spacetech market.

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UK Space Agency Awards £7.35 million to Virgin Orbit to Support Cornwall Operations

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 performs its first captive carry of LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency will award £7.35 million [$9.44 million] to Virgin Orbit UK Limited, the UK branch of US launch operator Virgin Orbit, to enable horizontal launch of small satellites at Cornwall Airport Newquay, it was confirmed today (Tuesday 5 November).

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UK Space Agency Launches Competition for Business Ideas to Test on Space Station

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — British entrepreneurs could have their business ideas tested out on the International Space Station thanks to a new funding contest.

The UK Space Agency will provide funding and the first space flight for the winning concepts, which could be anything from medicines and innovative materials developed in microgravity, to space-flown consumer products.

Matched funding of up to £1 million is available via the UK Space Agency from the European Space Agency’s Business Applications Space Solutions fund. The announcement was made during World Space Week, which runs from 4 to 10 October.

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Reaction Engines to Support Research into UK Spaceport Feasibility

Campbeltown Airport

ABINGDON, England (Reaction Engines PR) — At the UK Space Conference, Science Minister Chris Skidmore and UK Space Agency confirmed a further £1.3 million towards developing spaceport plans in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the government’s spaceflight programme, LaunchUK.

The funding will be shared between three sites around the country and Reaction Engines will play a key role supporting the assessment undertaken by the owners of Machrihanish Airbase company behind one of these sites; the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC).

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Science Minister Hails ‘Incredible Strength’ of UK Space Industry

Chris Skidmore
  • New funding for UK business ideas to fly to the International Space Station
  • UK Space Agency to support one million STEM interactions with young people.
  • £20 million from government’s  Strategic Priorities Fund to upgrade UK capabilities in space weather modelling and measurement and £1.3 million for horizontal spaceport plans in England, Scotland and Wales.

NEWPORT, Wales (UK Government PR) — A new package of space funding was unveiled by Science Minister Chris Skidmore at the UK Space Conference in Newport today (Tuesday 24 September).

The government is committed to developing the UK’s national space capabilities while stepping up international collaborations, including through the European Space Agency.

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UK, Australian Space Agencies Agree to Develop a World’s First ‘Space Bridge’

NEWPORT, Wales (UK Space Agency PR) — The proposed ‘Space Bridge’, borne out of the highly successful ‘FinTech Bridge’ already in existence between the UK and Australia, will unlock greater collaboration between governments, regulators and industry.

The agreement, announced this morning at the UK Space Conference will further the ambitions set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two agencies in October 2018 and lay the foundations for swift and amicable negotiations for space-related opportunities under any potential future UK-Australia trading arrangements.

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