UK Space Agency puts extra £50m into space projects
January 24, 2023
By Chris Forrester
The UK Space Agency has announced £50 million (€56.7m) of funding for innovative projects that aim to “supercharge” the UK’s satellite communications industry.
The funding, which comes as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Services (ARTES) programme, is available for a wide range of projects, such as developing new satellite constellations, the ground systems needed to access them, or whole end-to-end systems delivering new services to customers. The UK is a leading investor in ARTES, having committed £190 million to the programme at the ESA Council of Ministers in November.
These projects could include integrating 5G systems to unlock connectivity for people and machines through upgrading infrastructure to enable new markets and services such as drones or driverless haulage, creating space-based networks to rival cable-based terrestrial ones, and helping UK space operators to use disruptive new technologies and business models to enable global operations.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “Developing UK space capabilities and maximising commercial opportunities are key to the National Space Strategy, as part of our plans to become a leading power in space and build on a sector already worth £16.5 billion to the UK economy. We are determined to invest in our world class satellite technology sector, which is why I committed £1.8 billion for UK participation in ESA programs over the next five years and recently committed £190 million specifically to participate in international telecommunications missions. This latest £50 million UK Space Agency funding will help more companies into our vibrant fast growth UK space telecoms sector, helping drive both growth and wider UK economic resilience.”
The UK already has a fast-growing satellite communications industry, with services contributing £10.4 billion to the economy and to the creation of more than 26,600 jobs.
UK Space Agency CEO, Dr Paul Bate, added: “This is an exciting time to be involved in the satellite communications industry as the world increases its dependence on these services to manage business, travel, security, infrastructure, connectivity, and more. This funding will help UK companies that have the right expertise and ambition to become global players in this market and lead on ground-breaking technologies that will enhance the wider UK space sector, create jobs and generate further investment. I look forward to seeing the results of the competition and following the successful projects in their next steps.