The £20m Aerospace UP initiative was established to assist small companies develop new solutions to making aviation greener.
Three companies are to receive funding to progress a satellite de-orbiting solution, an alternative to metal propulsion tanks, and technology to monitor, detect and analyse more complex particulates.
Space Resources Laboratory’s Project Aryabhat is developing a propulsion system that consists of a thruster, fuel tank and avionics control system that can be fitted into a satellite and deliver de-orbiting capabilities and minimising the remains left in orbit at the end of the spacecraft’s life cycle.
Grantham-based Holscot Fluropolymers Ltd is producing FEP bladders to line nano, micro and small satellite propulsion tanks. The company’s FEP bladders - a lighter and compatible alternative to metal tanks - are potentially re-fillable and re-usable in orbit, which can help minimise waste in low orbit space.
XCAM is developing a device that allows its prototype Particulate Fall Out (PFO) monitor to detect and analyse more complex particulates. The new monitor from the Northampton-based company will include the capability to use neural networks for analysis in space that will eventually minimise the limitations inherent to downlinking data to Earth.
Professor Serhiy Bozhko, director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) at Nottingham University, said: “Companies are recognising that there is a need to invest in orientating themselves to be in a position to be competitive in the Net Zero age. However, the mechanics of this orientation are a challenge due to the financial environment and technological uncertainty.”
Prof Bozhko continued: “This is where research and development support from Aerospace Unlocking Potential plays a role in providing expert advice from the university and industrial knowhow from the Midlands Aerospace Alliance combined with the grant funding.”
UP is being delivered by Nottingham University and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA) with support from the European Regional Development Fund and Midlands Engine. As well as funding, the programme offers SMEs with access to industry experts, academic support, and facilities.