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UK National Space Strategy and industrial developments

Britain leaves European rivals trailing in the space race (despite Virgin Orbit crashing back to earth) -This Is Money

Britain is second only to the US in the modern space race – despite its Virgin Orbit setback earlier this year.

The UK has secured 17 per cent of private investment in space since 2015, making it the leading destination in Europe, according to a report from the Space Agency and auditor PwC. The only country to attract more investment in space projects is the US.

With earth observation, manufacturing and satellites the key areas of investment in the UK, the report reckons that private investors have pumped as much as £7billion into the UK in the last eight years alone...
Beam-hopping OneWeb satellite soars into space - UK Space Agency

Nicknamed “JoeySat” (after a baby kangaroo) for its ability to beam-hop, the satellite will help improve broadband internet connectivity from space by adapting rapidly to changing demand from users, supporting OneWeb’s next generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit.

Taking off alongside 15 other OneWeb satellites from the Vandenberg launch pad in California at 2.16pm (BST) on 20 May, JoeySat was developed with £52 million funding from the UK Space Agency awarded to UK satellite technology firms through the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme.

UK Space Agency CEO, Dr Paul Bate, said:

OneWeb’s JoeySat will be a game-changer for satellite communications, offering the chance to improve people’s lives through reliable connectivity, whether that means better broadband services in remote places, or the ability to respond more effectively to emergency situations.

As part of our priority to deliver missions and capabilities to our flourishing space sector, the UK Space Agency has invested more than £50 million into the mission, funding both the innovative technology behind JoeySat’s creation and the development of a wider ecosystem that will ensure a reliable and sustainable end-to-end service.

JoeySat’s technology will be able to switch the satellite capacity between different places on Earth up to 1,000 times per second, enabling it to provide services from managing real time surges in commercial demand, to providing broadband on planes, and responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

The signal strength can also be rapidly deployed to 5G mini hubs connected to OneWeb communication network, to help meet wider service demands...

OneWeb, which employs around 400 people in the UK, received approximately £5 million of the UK Space Agency’s investment, while SatixFy received £25 million to build the digital beam-hopping and beam-steering payload – the ‘brains’ of the satellite...
I have mentioned this on the Manufacturing In Space thread, but does this development have other applications?

This British start-up has designed an umbrella-like landing system to make satellites reusable - Euronews

While It’s become more cost-effective to launch satellites to orbit, bringing them back to Earth intact has proven much trickier. Until now.

A mini-manufacturing satellite that can return to Earth aboard an origami-like heat shield could help revolutionise the manufacture of super-materials in space, according to a British start-up.

Welsh company Space Forge has developed a platform for microgravity production, research, and experimentation; with novel electronics and pharmaceuticals among those industries which could benefit from in-space manufacture.

The start-up has built what it calls a planet-friendly reusable re-entry system, which will enable the low-cost and reliable return of satellites to Earth...
First dedicated government fund to build space infrastructure launched with £50 million - UK Space Agency

The Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) – the first dedicated fund for UK space infrastructure – will award match funding to UK organisations to develop the R&D infrastructure needed to make space products mission-ready and sell them into commercial markets.

Investment in space R&D infrastructure is essential for building and testing new UK space and satellite capabilities, supporting innovative missions that can benefit people, businesses and communities across the country.

Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology George Freeman MP said:

The UK space industry - worth £17.5 billion to the UK economy and creating new companies and careers all around the country from Glasgow Space City to Spaceport Cornwall - is a key part of the UK Innovation Economy.

This £50 million Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund is the UK’s first fund dedicated to support the space industry develop the R&D facilities key to growing the space clusters across the UK, helping to generate investment, create jobs and enable UK space companies’ cutting-edge technology to be made mission-ready for new commercial satellite markets.

The funding is available to industry and academia who can deliver projects to procure, build or upgrade R&D facilities and equipment that will bring high potential, high value space technologies to market. SCIF is a pilot project that will support approximately 5-10 projects of up to £10 million each.

These projects will provide critical anchor points at the local level for new businesses, investment and research and aim to create hundreds of jobs in areas of the UK that need it most...
Expanding frontiers: The down to earth guide to investing in space - UK Space Agency

“Expanding frontiers: The down-to-earth guide to investing in space” is a PwC report written in association with the UK Space Agency that seeks to help private capital investors better understand the space investment landscape, and the key dynamics and trends underpinning it.

It also highlights the diversity of investment opportunities across the sector and the UK’s prominent position as a destination of global space capital. This report has been developed by Strategy&, the strategy consulting team of PwC, in association with the UK Space Agency.

The insights have been developed through our shared experience in the sector, extensive stakeholder engagement and desktop research, with evidence sources presented where possible.
Space funding boost for international partnerships and STEM education  - UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency has announced £6.6 million funding for a range of international science partnerships and STEM education projects at the opening of this year’s Space Comm-Expo in Farnborough – one of the UK’s largest space events.

The new Science and Exploration Bilateral Programme is designed to support science collaborations with international institutions that will progress space research and problem-solving around the world.

The new Space to Learn scheme will boost initiatives dedicated to inspiring young people about space and improve access to STEM careers and learning opportunities all over the country
£300,000 in Funding Awarded to Space Technology Exploitation Programme recipients - The Manufacturer

Three space organisations from Northern Ireland have been successful in applying for funding through the Space Technology Exploitation Programme (STEP).

Announced today by ADS Group and the UK Space Agency, £300,000 in funding has been awarded to the organisations to support their engagement in the wider supply chain and space economy.

STEP was launched in February 2023 as one of eighteen projects by the UK Space Agency in order to boost the UK’s space sector.

ADS will oversee the pilot programme enabling supply chains SMEs in Northern Ireland to engage with large companies and use innovative, new solutions to overcome technology challenges – unlocking new potential markets and building UK space capabilities, as asserted by the National Space Strategy.

The three successful projects participating in the inaugural funding round of the programme are:

  • ANGOKA Ltd – ANGOKA’s technology protects space based optical communications, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of data with a quantum resilient solution.
  • IceMOS Technology Ltd – IceMOS Technology Ltd uses an advanced engineering substrate for a Radiation Tolerant, High Voltage Silicon Carbide embedded Drain MOSFET for High-Voltage Power Distribution on Space Spacecraft for LEO, MEO and Deep Space Exploration.
  • Skytek Technology Ltd – AR4Space harnesses Skytek’s ground-breaking advancements in Augmented Reality technology, specifically tailored for the Spacecraft Assembly, Integration, and Test (AIT) sector.
This will have the tin foil wearers coming up with ulterior and covert reasons for this system...

HotSat-1: Spacecraft to map UK's heat inefficient buildings - BBC News

A novel British satellite designed to map the heat signature of buildings has been launched.

The idea is to highlight those dwellings that are wasting energy and could benefit from better insulation.

The relatively small spacecraft is appropriately called HotSat-1 and it will be operated by the London-based start-up Satellite Vu.

Its infrared sensor has been developed with funds from the UK and European space agencies.

HotSat-1 launched on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at about 14:35 PDT (22:35 BST), a little later than planned.

Flying at an altitude of 500km (311 miles), it will have the resolution to see individual roof tops and walls.

The UK has some of the most inefficient housing stock in Europe, with the vast majority of dwellings built pre-1970.

If many of these properties can be retrofitted, it would not only save on householders' fuel costs but help the country as a whole achieve its ambition of becoming climate-neutral by 2050...
UK shoots for the stars as space-based solar power prepares for lift-off - DESNZ/UKSA

The UK’s space-based solar power industry is preparing for lift off thanks to a multi-million government investment to develop the cutting-edge technology.

In a speech at London Tech Week today, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will announce the leading UK universities and technology companies receiving a share of £4.3 million government funding to drive forward innovation in the sector.

  • the University of Cambridge is receiving over £770,000 to develop ultra-lightweight solar panels that can survive long periods in high-radiation environments like the conditions in space. This will help increase the lifetime of these satellites, improve energy yields and lower the cost per unit of energy
  • Queen Mary University in London will receive over £960,000 to develop a wireless power transmission system with high efficiency over a long range, to support the technology to beam solar power from the satellites back to Earth
  • MicroLink Devices UK Ltd in Port Talbot, South Wales, has been awarded over £449,000 to develop the next generation of lightweight, flexible solar panels, which could be used for solar satellites
  • the University of Bristol is receiving over £353,000 to produce a simulation of solar space wireless power transfer capability to explore the possibilities of this technology, and provide further evidence on the performance, safety, and reliability of space based solar
  • Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd in Didcot has been awarded over £999,000 for an experiment to test the electronical steering and beam quality of its space satellite antenna technology. The company are receiving over £424,000 for another project to study how to advance commercial space-based solar power that can provide a reliable source of electricity for the UK
  • Imperial College London is receiving over £295,000 for a study to assess the key benefits and impacts of space solar, including how solar energy from space could be integrated into the electricity grid alongside other low-carbon energy sources
  • EDF Energy R&D UK Centre Ltd will receive over £25,000 for a study to improve knowledge of the value of introducing space based solar power into the UK’s grid
STFC RAL Space boost UK space weather forecasting capabilities - UK Research and Innovation

On 12 June 2023, UKRI’s SWIMMR programme launched UKRI SWIMMR-1, its first radiation monitor, to low Earth orbit, enhancing UK space weather capabilities.

The Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) programme is a five-year, £20 million investment by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund.

UKRI SWIMMR-1, called Hardpix, procured from the Czech Technical University, was launched from Vandenberg Air Base, California, aboard the D-Orbit satellite carrier ION SCV011.

It is part of a rideshare mission called Transporter 8, launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Supplying radiation data

The UKRI SWIMMR-1 instrument will supply radiation data (energised charged particles) from an altitude of 645 kilometres (km) to the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

Within the SWIMMR programme, the S1 ‘Improved in-situ radiation measurements for space and aviation’ project is being implemented by the Space Physics and Operations Division of Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) RAL Space. The project has support from expert subcontractors including a consortium led by Inverse Quanta Limited.

D-Orbit won the SWIMMR S1 Trusted Space In-orbit Monitoring Mission tender to provide in-situ radiation data from space.

Protecting vital infrastructure

Space weather occurs when the Sun releases magnetic fields, electrically charged particles, and radiation, into space.

These are carried through the solar system, including towards Earth.

If this radiation interacts with technological infrastructure such as satellites, it can disrupt their functionality, compromising vital services such as satellite navigation.

This can pose a significant risk to the technologies we rely on in daily life and those designing such infrastructures need to take space weather into account when designing robust systems.

Significant risks

These risks are recorded in the UK government’s national risk register with severe space weather recognised as a significant risk.

The UK government’s plan to increase preparedness and resilience to a severe space weather event is outlined in its severe space weather preparedness strategy.

The strategy highlights radiation monitoring using sensors such as UKRI SWIMMR-1 as an important mitigation...
This will have the tin foil wearers coming up with ulterior and covert reasons for this system...

HotSat-1: Spacecraft to map UK's heat inefficient buildings - BBC News

A novel British satellite designed to map the heat signature of buildings has been launched.

The idea is to highlight those dwellings that are wasting energy and could benefit from better insulation.

The relatively small spacecraft is appropriately called HotSat-1 and it will be operated by the London-based start-up Satellite Vu.

Its infrared sensor has been developed with funds from the UK and European space agencies.

HotSat-1 launched on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at about 14:35 PDT (22:35 BST), a little later than planned.

Flying at an altitude of 500km (311 miles), it will have the resolution to see individual roof tops and walls.

The UK has some of the most inefficient housing stock in Europe, with the vast majority of dwellings built pre-1970.

If many of these properties can be retrofitted, it would not only save on householders' fuel costs but help the country as a whole achieve its ambition of becoming climate-neutral by 2050...
No mention of crop monitoring? Seems a bit odd.
Skyrora 3D prints and tests new model of orbital engine to prepare for commercial launch - The Manufacturer

Skyrora has begun a series of full-duration tests to qualify the updated design of its 70kN engine for its first commercial orbital launch. The engines have been 3D printed by using Skyrora’s Skyprint 2 machine for the first time, halving the production time and reducing costs.

The new engine design features an improved engine cooling chamber to increase the efficiency of the cooling process and, in turn, extend the engine’s life cycle. Compared to the original model, Skyrora’s 70 kN engines can now be manufactured approximately 66% faster at a 20% cost reduction.

The engine tests will evaluate various parameters including life cycle and full operational envelope testing while the engine runs for 250 seconds, the same amount of time that it will run in a real mission to reach orbit. A successful test will be indicated by nominal chamber pressures and thrust levels with no damage to the hardware. A test article iteration consisting of data analysis, design adjustments, and manufacturing can be completed in approximately three weeks.

Upon qualification, the updated 70 kN engine will become the first ever commercial engine to use a closed-cycle staged combustion system run on a propellant combination of Hydrogen Peroxide and Kerosene. While it has not been used historically due to its complexity, the higher specific impulse generated through this design will increase the overall efficiency of the engine.

Taking place at Skyrora’s test site in Midlothian, Scotland, the largest of its kind in the UK, the trials will be overseen by the company’s team of experts every week into the summer. The successful completion of this series of tests will mark a key milestone within the company’s contract under the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support Programme...
UK Space Agency funding to boost propulsion, imaging and solar technologies

The projects

Lancaster University (£240,000)

E-band travelling wave tubes for high throughput satellites - Design and creation of a high power, compact, low-cost E-band travelling wave tube amplifier to enable 5G and 6G high data transmission.

Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey (£250,000)

Plasma torch rocket electro-thermal thruster for space logistics (PLATOR) - Development of a new electro-thermal propulsion system to enhance in-orbit servicing, manufacturing and spacecraft manoeuvring.

Swansea University (£250,000)

Levitated opto-mechanical technologies in space (LOTIS) - This project develops key technologies, including nano-particle sourcing, conditioning, and optical trapping, to enable levitated opto-mechanics for large mass fundamental quantum mechanics experiments and inertial and space environment sensing.

University of Strathclyde (£250,000)

Micro LEDs for satellite quantum key distribution - Development integration of UV micro-LEDs to enable compact, low-power, robust sources for satellite quantum key distribution, which will support technology for encrypted communications.

Durham University (£250,000)

Advancing metal optics technology for space systems - This project aims to develop metal optics, enabling higher performance, more compact, instrument concepts for Earth Observation and for exploration missions.

Durham University (£190,000)

Looking up image slicers optimum capabilities in the extreme ultraviolet for space (LUCES) - Exploring image slicer technology in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) to develop the first ever EUV integral field spectrograph that could enable observations of the Sun and advance high energy astrophysics.

University of Southampton (£240,000)

Silicon photonic beam pointing for free space optical communications - Development of a novel beam steering chip for free-space optical communications, enabling fully solid-state communications.

Space Forge (£230,000)

Project Helios solar array - Development of a deployable and retractable solar array for use within a returnable spacecraft and to enable in-orbit servicing.

Imperial College London (£200,000)

Cold spray manufacturing for space (COSMOS) - Development of a cold spray metal additive to help in-orbit servicing, manufacturing and exploration missions.
Orbex expands facilities in preparation for UK mainland’s first vertical rocket launch - The Manufacturer

UK-based spaceflight company, Orbex, has extended its footprint by over thirty per cent across its Scottish and Danish design and production facilities, in preparation for the launch of its Prime rocket.

The company is adding an extra 1,500 square metres of factory and office space to its existing 4,750 square metre estate in Forres, Scotland and Copenhagen, Denmark. The additional space will increase the company’s launch vehicle production and propulsion system manufacturing capacity and add an extra software laboratory and an avionics clean room space with ISO 8 and ISO 9 sections. The additional capacity in Forres is just 3km from its test site at Kinloss, allowing for quick turnaround between the two sites, as Orbex ramps up its testing in the countdown to launch.

Orbex Prime became the first full orbital microlauncher rocket to be unveiled in Europe in May 2022. Prime is a 19-metre long rocket designed to launch small satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Orbex has already announced several commercial launch contracts with satellite manufacturers.

Orbex received one of the largest rounds of VC funding in the global space sector in Q4 of 2022, when it secured £40.4m in its Series C round, from existing and new investors. This funding has allowed for critical expansion of its production and business facilities, in the run-up to the first launch and beyond. The company also announced last year that it was hiring an additional fifty staff in preparation for launch.

Sustainability has been a focal point in the design of the reusable rocket, which has been engineered to leave zero debris on Earth and in orbit. The rocket is fuelled by a renewable form of propane, meaning that a Prime launch has a carbon footprint up to 96 percent lower than traditional launch vehicles powered by fossil fuels, according to a study by the University of Exeter...
All systems are go for new space degree apprenticeship -Department for Education

A new degree apprenticeship in space engineering will open up more opportunities for young people to build rewarding careers in the space industry and train up the talent the sector needs to grow, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced today (14 July).

From spacecraft manufacturing to testing satellites, apprentices on the new Level 6 Space Systems programme will have a leading role in the development of complex, high value space hardware and ground support equipment.

The new apprenticeship will offer infinite opportunities for people to work in the UK’s world-leading space industry, including for global aerospace companies, space agencies or institutions including universities and technology research and development laboratories.

The apprenticeship is the first of its kind at degree-level. Applications open in September, and apprentices will start work for Airbus and begin their degree training with delivery partners across the UK in September 2024. The curriculum was developed with the University of Leicester, and will be delivered with Space Park Leicester, where students will have access to specialist facilities and world-class expertise in space mission development...