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.
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.
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).
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 UKâ€™s economy. ‘Studies in the UK now show that the space sector is one of the highest value-adding economic sectors,’ he said.
The British space industry has grown by nearly eight per cent through the recession and is now worth over Â£7.5 billion to the economy, a UK Space Agency report revealed today.
The report, â€˜The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry,â€™ 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.
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.
A report from the London-based Economic Policy Centre recommends that the United Kingdom deepen cooperation with other space powers, emulate the Isle of Man’s approach to space commerce, and learn from the United States’ experience in licensing commercial spaceports.
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.