Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites from Cornwall in England

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

CORNWALL, United Kingdom (Virgin Orbit PR) — For a while now, we’ve been working with our friends in Cornwall on the prospect of using LauncherOne to bring launch back to Britain. Today, that project took a massive step forward, as the U.K. Space Agency announced it aims to invest £7.8m (~$10 million) into the development of Spaceport Cornwall as a key operating hub for horizontal launch system, working towards a first launch from British soil in the early 2020’s.

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From Airport to Spaceport: £2 Million Available to Develop Horizontal Spaceflight in the UK

  • UK Space Agency opens £2 million [$2.54 million] development fund for horizontal spaceflight
  • Existing airports could develop new infrastructure to allow aircraft or spaceplanes to take off and deploy satellites in space
  • Horizontal spaceport runways also offer an attractive option for space tourism in the future.

LONDON (UKSA PR) — Future spaceports can apply for a share of £2 million [$2.54 million] to support plans for small satellite launch from aircraft and sub-orbital flight from the UK, Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced today.

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Reprogrammable Satellite Takes Shape

The communications module of Quantum is slowly lowered onto the service module.(Credit: Airbus)

Toulouse, France, 15 May 2019 (ESA PR) — The payload and platform of the first European satellite that can be completely reprogrammed after launch have been successfully joined together.

The assembly of Eutelsat Quantum took place in the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, on 10 May.

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UK Delivers World’s Most Accurate Weather Satellite Instrument

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — Collaboration between the UK and France has developed a sophisticated forecasting instrument that will set new standards of accuracy in short term weather prediction.

Using high-performance infrared detectors made in Southampton, the new device will improve short-range weather forecasts by monitoring atmospheric instability and cloud structure. It will also analyse the content of the Earth’s atmosphere, detecting and tracking pollutants around the globe.
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UK Scientists Get $9.25 Million to Study Space Weather

LONDON (UKSA PR) — New national space funding worth £7 million [$9.25 million] will ensure UK scientists play a leading role in a new space weather mission, the Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced on the first day of British Science Week (8 March).

The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) mission will study how the solar wind interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere, which can impact on satellites, power grids and communications networks integral to our modern lives.

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Mars Rover Gets Work-out Controlled From More than 6,000 Miles Away

The Atacama desert as seen by a Mars rover. (Credit: ExoFit PanCam team)

OXFORDSHIRE, UK (UKSA PR) — A space control centre in the UK has been used to test-drive a prototype Mars rover thousands of miles away in Chile’s Atacama desert.Experts at the European Space Agency’s centre in Oxfordshire completed a series of tests across nearly 6,900 miles (11,000 km) in order to see how the Mars rover reacts to commands across large distances.

When on the surface of Mars, the rover will need to be controlled when it is up to 250 million miles from Earth.

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UKSA Awards Grant Funding for Commercial Launch Range Control Services

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has confirmed that three organisations have been awarded over £350,000 [$457.5 million] in grant funding for the development of commercial range control services at multiple spaceport sites across the country.

The successful applicants Telespazio VEGA UK Ltd, Deimos Space UK Ltd and Heliaq UK Ltd will use the funding to develop a business plan and initial concept of operations to offer range services from the UK on a commercial basis.

The 2018 Space Industry Act enables companies to use cutting edge technology while also safeguarding public safety. Range control services are vital to this and include activities such as tracking rockets and spaceplanes in flight, as well as notifying users of airspace when launches are taking place.

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UK Space Agency Provides $23.5 Million to OneWeb for Global Communications Constellation

LONDON (UKSA PR) — Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer today, after £18 million [$23.5 million] of UK Space Agency funding was awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency, to aid the development of its next generation satellite constellation.

A global communications network in space, the system will be comprised of approximately 650 satellites initially and scale to more than 900 satellites over time.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore is visiting the European Space Agency in the Netherlands today. He will say:

Fast internet access is something many people take for granted but in many areas of the world connectivity is still hit and miss.

This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, putting the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.

The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.

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ExoMars Rover Named After Co-Discoverer of DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin (Credit: Jewish Chronicle Archive/Heritage-Images)

STEVENAGE, UK, February 7, 2019 (UKSA PR) — The UK made ExoMars rover, due to roam the surface of the red planet in 2021, has been named after UK scientist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA – Rosalind Franklin.

The name was revealed this morning by Science Minister Chris Skidmore and British European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Tim Peake in the ‘Mars Yard’ at Airbus Defence and Space UK in Stevenage, where the rover is being built.

Chris Skidmore, UK Science Minister said:

“It is a tremendously fitting tribute that the rover has been named after Rosalind Franklin as she helped us understand life on Earth and now her namesake will do the same on Mars.

“Just as Rosalind Franklin overcame many obstacles during her career, I hope ‘Rosalind the rover’ will successfully persevere in this exciting adventure, inspiring generations of female scientists and engineers to come.

“This is a big moment for British science and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are embracing this moment as part of our ambition to be the world’s most innovative economy, creating opportunities for business through science.”

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UK Space Sector Created 3,400 New Jobs

LONDON (UK Government PR) — The UK’s space sector has seen significant growth in income, exports and employment with total income now standing at £14.8 billion [$19.4 billion], Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced today.

The main findings from the independent ‘UK Space Industry: Size and Health Report’ show that, compared to the 2016 survey:

  • income up from £13.7 billion to £14.8 billion [$18 billion to $19.4 billion]
  • employment up from 38,522 to 41,900
  • exports up from £5 billion to £5.5 billion [$6.6 billion to $7.2 billion]

The report also shows that an average of 39 new companies have been added to the UK space sector every year since 2012.

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Self Driving Rovers Tested in Mars-like Morocco

SherpaTT rover during Morocco field test. (Credit: DFKI GmbH, Florian Cordes)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Robots invaded the Sahara Desert for Europe’s largest rover field test, taking place in a Mars-like part of Morocco. For two weeks three rovers and more than 40 engineers tested automated navigation systems at up to five different sites.

This marked the end of the first phase of the strategic research cluster on space robotics technologies, a scheme funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

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Group Forms to Oppose UK Spaceport

Artist’s impression of a UK spaceport. (Credit: Perfect Circle PV)

The BBC reports a group named Protect The Mhoine (PTM) has formed to oppose plans to construct a spaceport on the Moine peninsula in Sutherland.

Its members’ concerns include the boundary of the spaceport’s exclusion zone being only a few hundred metres from their property, and also the handling of consultation on the project.Under the proposals, satellites launched from Sutherland would fly from north to south….

Chairman John William told BBC Scotland: “We think that drawbacks of building a spaceport on the Moine are far more serious and longer lasting than any possible benefits.

“The benefits are claimed to be 40 jobs in the area and perhaps 400 jobs worldwide. Those are tentative numbers.

“What is certain is if you destroy a peatlands area by putting roads across it, concrete in it and rockets on it the damage will last for hundreds or thousands of years.”

Name Europe’s Mars Rover Competition

ESA’s Exo Mars Rover (Credit: ESA)

FARNBOROUGH, UK — 20 July 2018 (ESA PR) — The UK Space Agency has launched a competition to name a rover that is going to Mars to search for signs of life.Due to launch in 2020, the UK-built rover is part of ESA’s ExoMars mission. It will investigate how Mars has evolved and whether there may be conditions for life.

The ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to travel across the martian surface and drill down to determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the Sun’s radiation that bombards the surface of the ‘Red Planet’.

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Lockheed Martin and Orbex to Launch UK into New Space Age

Notional image of the UK’s first commercial spaceport at the Sutherland Site in Melness, Scotland, which will conduct the UK’s first vertical, orbital rocket launch in the early 2020s. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

FARNBOROUGH, UK (UKSA PR) — Lockheed Martin and Orbex are investing in space launch operations and bringing innovative new technology to Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced today (Monday 16 July) during the Farnborough International Airshow.

  • Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland and develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire with support from two UK Space Agency grants totalling £23.5 million
  • A further £5.5 million will go to British company Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, as part of Government’s modern Industrial Strategy
  • This builds on awards of £2.5m to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland and a £2m development fund for horizontal spaceports such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia
  • Government support for launch is the first step towards a potential Space Sector Deal and the development of a national space programme

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Orbex Secures $39.6 Million to Develop Orbital Launch System

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)

Farnborough, UK, July 16, 2018 (Orbex PR) — Orbex has announced that it has secured £30 million ($39.6 million) in public and private funding for the development of orbital space launch systems. Orbex will launch orbital vehicles from the newly-announced UK Vertical Launch spaceport in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands as part of the main consortium.

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