Lift-off for new launch technology with UK Space Agency funding

Lift-off for new launch technology with UK Space Agency funding

The UK Space Agency has announced £2.7m for 13 early-stage technology projects in England, Scotland and Wales to support the growing satellite launch sector.

The UK is home to a thriving satellite manufacturing industry and is on track to become the first country in Europe to offer small satellite manufacturers commercial launch services from a range of spaceports offering both horizontal and vertical rocket launch capabilities.

Funding from the agency’s new Launch UK Technology Investment Program will support teams from industry and academia to develop technologies, products and services that will improve the UK space supply chain, strengthen international competitiveness and stimulate further investment.

One project will recycle materials, including natural cork, to create thermal protection solutions for launch vehicle propulsion systems and launch vehicles with a reduced environmental impact, while another is developing launch vehicle components from lighter and less expensive metal composites to reduce the risk of creating space debris. Two more projects will follow next year.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “Funding new scientific and technological developments is crucial to growing the UK space sector and encouraging further investment in our economy.

“While we look forward to marking a major milestone in UK launch capabilities with the upcoming launch from Spaceport Cornwall, projects like this ensure we have a growing pipeline of new technologies ready for liftoff to further our long-term… to support ambitions.”

Launch services have a potential value of £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade. The UK Space Agency is already running a program of space projects, including the first Virgin Orbit launch from Spaceport Cornwall, which will put nine satellites into orbit early next year.

Work is also underway to build spaceports in Sutherland and Shetland that will host vertical rocket launches from national and international launch providers. Additional spaceports are under development at other locations in Scotland and Wales and have the potential to host a wide range of new and innovative launch technologies.

By Mark Adair – Correspondent, Bdaily

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