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UK space gets £2.7m boost

December 15, 2022

By Chris Forrester

The UK Space Agency has invested in 13 early-stage projects across England, Scotland and Wales and designed to support the satellite launch sector.

The overall investment is a modest £2.7 million ($3.3m) and comes from the Space Agency’s newly-formed Launch UK Technology Investment Programme and which will support teams from industry and universities to develop technology, products and services that will enhance the UK spaceflight supply chain, strengthen international competitiveness and catalyse further investment.

One project, for example, will recycle materials, including natural cork, to create thermal protection solutions for launcher propulsion systems and launch vehicles with a lower environmental impact, while another will develop launcher components out of lighter and more cost-effective metal composites, reducing the risk of creating space debris. Two further projects will follow next year says the Agency.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, said, “Funding new science and technology developments is crucial to growing the UK space sector and catalysing further investment into our economy. While we look forward to marking a major milestone in UK launch capabilities with the upcoming launch from Spaceport Cornwall, projects such as these ensure we have growing pipeline of new technologies ready for lift-off to support our long-term ambitions.”

Launch services are worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade. The UK Space Agency is already delivering a program of spaceflight projects, including Virgin Orbit’s first launch from Spaceport Cornwall, which will carry nine satellites into orbit early next year.

The Agency’s statement adds that work is also underway on the construction of spaceports in Sutherland and Shetland, which will host vertical rocket launches from national and international launch providers. Further spaceports are in development at other locations in Scotland and Wales, with the potential to host a wide range of new and innovative launch technologies.

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