The £4.9m contract will see Astrium lead an industrial consortium, which will be responsible for the design and integration of an EO Hub. This will include a spacecraft operations centre capable of co-ordinating multiple satellites and processing payload data.
Astrium’s team includes VEGA, a professional services company, as core partner, together with SSTL, a specialist small satellite manufacturer, as well as Astrium subsidiary Infoterra.
According to Astrium, the development of the Hub will provide the UK with its own ground capability, an essential first step in establishing an overall sovereign EO capability and a key recommendation of the recent Space Innovation Growth Strategy.
The strategy was developed as a joint government, industry and academia initiative that set out a 20-year vision for the future growth of the UK space industry.
Work on the design and installation of the EO Hub, which will be housed in the Electron Building at Harwell, will start immediately and is expected to be operational by March 2011.
David Willetts, minister for universities and science, said: ‘The Earth Observation Hub will help UK scientists make the most of the wealth of information we are collecting about our home planet, in vital areas such as monitoring the effects of climate change or so we can respond quickly to natural disasters throughout the world.
‘It’s the important first step in making the International Space Innovation Centre a reality, linking regional space capabilities and promoting knowledge sharing between academia and industry. This will support further growth in a sector already worth more than £6bn a year.’
The establishment of an EO Hub at Harwell will be funded through the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with contributions from industry and STFC.