Global Britain to become Galactic Britain with further investment in innovation to enhance UK space capabilities

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The Prime Minister Boris Johnson accompanied by the the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps as they view LauncherOne. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

With a plan to turn global Britain into galactic Britain, another five innovative organisations have won funding to develop technologies that enhance the UK’s ability to safely operate in space.

The funding – announced this week at the Farnborough International Airshow – has been allocated to projects that improve intelligence gathering, threat assessments, and enhance the monitoring of spacecraft.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed the UK space strategy will help the UK fight climate change with new technologies and “modernise” transport systems.

The Prime Minister said:

“It’s a plan that will level up the UK by bringing opportunity to every part of it, with satellites being propelled into orbit from as far afield as Cornwall and Sutherland as soon as next year.

“A plan that will create more jobs by putting rocket boosters the size of a Saturn V’s F1 under British space businesses. And a plan that will see us take a leading role on the international stage, Global Britain becoming Galactic Britain as we work with other nations to pursue exciting missions and with the UN to set the standards that will ensure space is used responsibly and safely.”

Space to Innovate Campaign – Bravo was launched in September 2021, and sought to find innovations that maintain the UK’s freedom to operate in the space domain by developing future space technologies that enhance and protect military and civilian activity.

The winning organisations include:

  • AltaRange Ltd (Scotland)
  • Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd and Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (Scotland)
  • Slipstream Engineering Design Ltd (Yorkshire and the Humber)
  • AVoptics (South west)
  • Astroscale (South east)

Space-based services and satellites are vital to modern life, enabling a range of civilian and military activities such as global communications, secure navigation, banking transactions and transport. Any form of disturbance to UK space capabilities, whether natural or intentional, can have a huge effect on these critical services and the UK economy as a result.

Air-Vice Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, said:

This is an exciting time for the UK’s space sector. It’s great to see companies across the union continuously challenging the norms and improving the UK’s ability to operate effectively and safely in space through innovative technologies.

Bravo Drop is the next part in the collaboration between Government, Defence, and industry and is crucial to our mission to make space safe, secure, and sustainable for all generations.

The Space to Innovate Campaign aims to find and fund solutions to major space hurdles to promote space resilience and operational effectiveness. Funded through Space to Innovate Campaign – Bravo Drop, the campaign is a joint collaboration between the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) UK Space Agency and Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

Dr Mike O’Callaghan, Dstl Space Programme Manager, said:

This is a hugely exciting time for Dstl with the launch of two satellite missions from the UK later this year. Accelerating the development of these technologies could enhance future space operations and contribute to improved space domain awareness, as well as more secure communications. We look forward to working with all the winners.

Organisations were invited to submit their innovative technologies and solutions to help overcome two key challenges:

  • Novel sensing and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies.
  • Novel approaches to improve signal-to-noise performance of space-related communications, sensing, identification or tracking capabilities.

The winners now have up to 20 months to complete their projects and deliver the results.

The Space to Innovate Campaign – Alpha Drop aimed to identify visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources, and novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent.

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