UK Government Announces Package of New Measures to Drive Space Sustainability

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

The new measures will demonstrate the UK’s commitment, ambition and drive to improve the UK’s sustainable use of space.

  • Science Minister George Freeman announces new Plan for Space Sustainability to demonstrate UK leadership in sustainable space, in line with ambitions set out in the National Space Strategy
  • UK industry will work in partnership with government to develop a new Space Sustainability Standard, which will incentivise companies to adopt best practice
  • government will also review the regulatory framework, including exploring ways of lowering insurance costs for sustainable missions

LONDON (UK Government PR) — Science Minister George Freeman has today (Thursday 23 June) launched a new Plan for Space Sustainability, a raft of measures which will demonstrate the UK’s commitment, ambition and drive to improve the UK’s sustainable use of space.

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NASA, ESA Finalize Agreements on Climate, Artemis Cooperation

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, right, and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher pose for a photograph following the signing of two agreements at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, June 15, 2022. The agreements aim to further advance the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions. (Credits: ESA/S.Corvaja)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher signed two agreements Wednesday at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, further advancing the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions.

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From the Earth to the Moon and on to Mars – ESA and NASA take decisions and plan for the future

Noordwijk, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — The next steps in exploring and using space for the benefit of European citizens were this week on the agenda at ESA’s Council meeting in ESA/ESTEC, the Netherlands on 14 and 15 June. The possibility of the first-ever European astronaut to set foot on the Moon, a telecommunication satellite for lunar exploration and a mission to return precious rock samples from Mars were all discussed.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined the meeting with ESA Member States in a decisive gesture to advocate for Europe’s strong role in multiple projects which reinforce the enduring partnership between the two leading space agencies.

“From understanding our changing planet to exploring Mars, I hugely value the cooperation we have with NASA” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.  “By contributing key European hardware and services to exciting programmes such as Artemis and Mars Sample Return, we are building Europe’s autonomy while also being a reliable partner.”

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UK Satnav Signal Generated in New Test to Provide Future Resilient, Precise, Safety-Critical Capabilities

  • Team comprising Inmarsat, Goonhilly, GMVNSL demonstrates platform for future sovereign UK Position, Navigation and Timing capability
  • UK not part of Galileo satnav system, cannot use European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) safety of life (SOL) services since leaving European Union

LONDON (Inmarsat PR) — An Inmarsat-led team of companies in the UK, building on national expertise and prior experience within the group, has begun broadcasting a satellite navigation signal as part of a programme to explore the creation of a sovereign national capability in resilient positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) for the aviation and maritime sectors. The signal, being broadcast in coordination with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union Space Programme Agency (EUSPA), is now stable and operational, enabling on-going testing and validation by industry, regulators, and users.

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CIRCE Space Weather Suite Announced for First UK Satellite Launch

CIRCE CAD models courtesy of Blue Canyon Technologies.

Dstl’s miniaturised space weather instrumentation suite will be aboard Virgin Orbit which is aiming to launch from Spaceport Cornwall later in 2022.

LONDON (Dstl PR) — The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) miniaturised space weather instrumentation suite will be one of the payloads aboard Virgin Orbit which is targeting the first UK satellite launch this summer from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay. Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket takes off horizontally, carried aloft by a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl.

The Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction Cubesat Experiment (CIRCE) satellite mission comprises two 6U cube-satellites that will be launched into a near-polar low Earth orbit in a string-of-pearls configuration (targeting 555 kilometres altitude). Each 6U satellite bus measures 10cm by 20cm by 30cm (the size of a cereal box), and will fly almost identical instrument capability on both satellites. Dstl is partnering with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) on the joint mission.

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UK and US to Launch Joint Mission Aboard United Kingdom’s First Orbital Launch Supported by Virgin Orbit

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Satellite launch company Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) announces today that a joint mission between the United Kingdom’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory and the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is expected to be lofted on the first space launch out of Spaceport Cornwall later this year.

The government agencies’ joint Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction CubeSat Experiment (CIRCE) is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Test Program (STP), which is organized under the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC). CIRCE will utilize two 6U CubeSats flying in tandem formation to measure the ionosphere and radiation environment from multiple vantage points. The mission will support the two countries’ joint development of a wide range of civil and defense applications, including GPS, radar, communication systems, and sensing technology.

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OneWeb, Astroscale, and the UK and European Space Agencies Partner to Launch Space Junk Servicer ELSA-M with €14.8 million Investment

The ELSA-M servicer will launch towards the end of 2024. The partnership is taking an important step to create a more sustainable space environment. 

United Kingdom (Astroscale PR) – OneWeb together with Astroscale Ltd.* will seek to safeguard the satellite economy with ground-breaking new spacecraft technology, thanks in part to a new investment of €14.8 million. The mission to demonstrate Astroscale’s ELSA-M servicer will launch towards the end of 2024, with ambitious plans to deliver a debris removal service to satellite operators thereafter.

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UK Company Orbex Reveals Micro-Launcher Rocket

Prime rocket prototype (Credit: Orbex)

KINLOSS, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency has welcomed news that the British rocket company Orbex has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its Prime orbital space rocket.

Orbex’s Prime rocket reaching technical readiness represents a significant achievement that brings together key elements of the ground infrastructure and prototype launch vehicle for the first time and is a major step forward for the company and for the UK launch industry.

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Lord David Willetts appointed as Chair of UK Space Agency Board

  • Lord Willetts previously served as Minister for Universities and Science as well as holding Chair and Board positions across the space and science sector
  • Lord Willetts will work with the recently appointed CEO of the UK Space Agency, Dr Paul Bate, to deliver on the government’s vision for space

LONDON (UK Space Agency PR) — Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has appointed Lord David Willetts as the Chair of the UK Space Agency’s Board, the government announced today.

The appointment comes at an exciting time for the agency, looking ahead to the UK’s first domestic launch this year, and following the recent publication of the National Space Strategy, which sets out the government’s long term commitment to building on the UK’s existing strengths in order to develop the UK as a world class space economy.

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UK Space Sector Created 3,000 Jobs in 1 Year

Credit: UK Space Agency

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The number of UK space jobs continued to grow into 2020, despite the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new figures released today.

Employment in the UK space sector hit 46,995 in 2020, up from 44,040 in 2019: an increase of 2,955 (6.7%).

Sector income increased in nominal terms from £16.4 billion to £16.5 billion, with exports counting for around a third (32%) of this total. Space manufacturing, including satellites, spacecraft, launch vehicles and scientific instruments, grew the most in real terms; up by £23 million to £2.27 billion.

In line with the UK Government’s commitment to increasing public and private R&D spending, investment in research and development saw a 19% boost to £836 million.

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Virgin Orbit to Launch First Welsh Satellite From UK Spaceport Summer 2022

LauncherOne ignites on its way to space. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif. & CARDIFF, Wales (Virgin Orbit PR) — Leading launch company Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) and European in-space manufacturing tech start-up Space Forge announce today an agreement to launch the first satellite developed in Wales in summer 2022.

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UK Space Agency Gives Financial Boost to Space Clusters

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Ten space clusters across the UK have been given a boost, thanks to new UK Space Agency funding.

These regional hubs, known as space clusters, will support new and growing companies, building on local expertise and catalysing investment into the space sector.

Over £600,000 [US $812,267] will go towards supporting activities that create jobs and growth, including recruiting space cluster managers, to strengthen local space sector leadership groups and developing new business opportunities.

The funding comes as the Government is set to unveil its flagship Levelling Up White Paper later today (2 February 2022), setting out a plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it.

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UK Space Agency Provides New Funding to Support Sustainable Future of Space

Distribution of space debris. (Credit: ESA)
  • Space debris is a major threat to the satellite services we rely on
  • 13 projects involve industry and academia across the UK

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency is providing £1.7 million [US $2.3 million] for new projects to support sustainable space operations, Science Minister George Freeman announced today.

The 13 new projects will help track and remove dangerous debris in space. They include an AI-based tool which can take autonomous action to avoid a collision and another which will see multiple small spacecraft fired at debris before taking it into the atmosphere to dispose of it.

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UNOOSA and United Kingdom Sign Agreement to Map Global Space-related Climate Action Efforts

VIENNA, 21 December 2021 (UN Information Service PR) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement to address the information gap for space-related climate actions. The scientific community and the United Nations (UN) system have long recognized and utilized space-based technologies, data and applications as essential components in climate change research, monitoring, and policy enactment. However, a comprehensive overview of the broad spectrum of current and planned activities in using space for climate action has been missing.

Through this new partnership, the UN and the United Kingdom strive to address this information gap and build synergies, facilitate coherence, and contribute to avoiding duplication of existing efforts. With a Strategic Mapping Exercise, the core of the mutual work, the two parties are going to review existing activities at the international and regional levels, in the UN system, for non-UN groups, partnerships, organizations and other relevant entities.

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UK and UN Join Forces in Using Space Tech to Tackle Climate Change

GLASGOW, Scotland (UK Space Agency PR) — A new project to map existing work to tackle climate action through the use of space technology and identify what more could be done has been launched by the UK Space Agency and the United Nations at COP26.

The government’s National Space Strategy, which was unveiled in September, set out an ambition for the UK to be a leader on using space for climate action. Now, the UK Space Agency will work with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on a new review of existing activity on climate action through the use of space technologies.

The aim is to develop a strategic view of climate activities being carried out in space on a scale that has never been done before and, through this, increase policy coherence across the multilateral system and relevant international organisations.

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