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UK Space Agency awards £7m for space innovation projects

A range of ‘high risk, high reward’ projects have been awarded a total of £7m from the Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme, aiming to make the UK a world leader in space technology

The UK Space Agency has awarded 21 projects a total of £7m in funding to tackle issues such as climate change, satellite communications and greater connectivity.

The funding is part of the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme, which was launched in July 2020.

The programme consists of a £15m fund, where £10m will be used for space technology projects aiming to tackle global issues, while £5m will be used for international space projects aiming to strengthen partnerships with other countries.

Projects receiving funding in this round include Surrey-based Global Satellite Vu, which will build a compact, high-resolution infrared camera to measure thermal emissions from premises such as offices, homes and schools, aiming to support the government’s green economic recovery plan, and Space Forge, which is developing and launching the world’s first returnable satellite.

Commenting on the funding, science minister Amanda Solloway said the government aims to make the UK a world leader in space technology “which is why we are supporting our most ambitious innovators who are developing first-of-a-kind technologies to help solve some of our greatest challenges”.

“From slashing carbon emissions to protecting the UK’s critical services from harmful cyber attacks, today’s funding will unshackle our most entrepreneurial space scientists so that they can transfer their revolutionary ideas into world-class products and services while helping to boost the UK economy.”

Another project receiving funding is being led by the Satellite Applications Catapult, aiming to deliver connectivity to poorly served areas through using satellites from OneWeb to demonstrate high-speed data transfer through space to the catapult’s 5G network.

The University of Edinburgh is also getting funding to develop a scalable data handling system to be used by organisations working on climate change mitigation.

Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said space technologies have become “deeply embedded in, and critical to, almost every aspect of our daily lives”.

“From the satellites connecting our calls to the ones that tell us when to expect rain when we step outside, space technologies are fundamental to our day-to-day lives,” he said.

“Our space sector is constantly advancing and welcoming new ideas, and through this funding we are championing the best of this British innovation.”

In the next few weeks, the government also aims to announce the successful applicants for the £5m funding set aside for international projects.

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