UKSA Funds Technology Pathfinder Projects

LONDON (UKSA PR) —  Tests on ‘green’ propellants for space propulsion, the demonstration of pultruded manufacturing of spacecraft components and a feasibility study into the use of Europe’s new radioisotope power systems for space are among the ten winners in the UK Space Agency’s latest competition within the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP).

The UK Space Agency is granting £0.5M [$775,450] to industry and academia following a call to the UK space community for innovative ideas in space technology research and development. The Future Technology Pathfinder Programme is part of the £27M NSTP which has already jump-started 50 high tech space projects since its launch in 2011.

The aim of the Pathfinder theme is to anticipate future space developments by investigating technologies new to space including advanced terrestrial technologies. Part of the programme goal is to assess the commercial and technological impact of new space engineering techniques. While all of the ideas are at an early stage of development, the ten projects selected all show a credible route to meeting future operational, commercial or scientific objectives within the European and global space economy.

Other projects selected include an entirely novel type of spacecraft thruster; work on advanced high performance materials: and the development of highly sensitive detectors for use in scientific and Earth observation missions.

David Parker, Director for Technology, Science and Exploration at the UK Space Agency said:
“Yet again the call for submissions for NSTP has unearthed a range of marketable, innovative ideas which will hone the UK’s space technology capabilities. It is fantastic for us to be able to invest in technical developments that will have an economic impact into the future.”

In total 19 academic and industrial teams will be carrying out the work.  The organisations leading the projects are: Reaction Engines Ltd, Magna Parva Ltd, Archer Technicoat Ltd (ATL), Astrium Ltd (2 projects), TISICS Limited, EADS Innovation Works, The Open University, COM DEV Europe Ltd and Selex Galileo Ltd.

The NSTP was set up to help maintain the remarkable success of the UK space industry with its growth rate on a par with the Chinese economy. In all cases, the UK Space Agency grants are further boosted by industrial funding demonstrating commitment from the private sector.

Day to day oversight of the projects will be managed on behalf of the Agency by its Centre for EO Instrumentation, which is an industrial/academic partnership led by Astrium Ltd with QinetiQ Ltd, the University of Leicester and the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.