Government provides funding for space-based research

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The government is providing nearly £6m to co-fund new British research that will lead to the development of commercial products and services using space technology and data from space-based systems.

The grant funding, said to be part of the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) from the UK Space Agency and the Technology Strategy Board, will support four major research and development consortium projects to be led by Astrium, Avanti Communications, DMC International Imaging and Surrey Satellite Technology.

The four projects will: begin the development of the Next Generation Telecommunications satellite platform; develop a ruggedised and lightweight portable Ka-Band satcom terminal; prepare the way for the planned UK NovaSAR Synthetic aperture radar mission; and develop a system and service for measuring land carbon stocks and fluxes from Satellite Earth observation data.

According to a statement, the total value of the research and development, including contributions from the participating companies, is more than £11.5m. The portfolio of projects includes participation by 21 partner companies, universities and research organisations, including seven small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

‘The UK space industry supports thousands of high-tech jobs in the UK and is an important driver of economic growth,’ said David Willetts, minister for universities and science. ‘This £6m investment will build on that success by helping some of the most innovative British businesses develop highly commercial, cutting-edge space technology that will be in demand in a growing global market.’

Last month, the UK Space Agency and the Technology Strategy Board announced investment of £2.5m through the NSTP in 28 short-term, fast-track research and development projects.