£15m UK fund for satellite communications technology

£15m UK fund for satellite communications technology

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK government has launched a £15m (€17.4m) fund to develop new communications technologies for satellites.

The competition, running until next spring, aims to focus on creating entire new satellite constellations, ground systems, or delivering new services to customers. It will be funded through the UK Space Agency’s leading role in the European Space Agency (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Services (ARTES) programme.

The meeting comes ahead of the ESA Council of Ministers (CMIN22) next month where the UK and other member states will negotiate their future contributions to ESA for priority space projects and missions.

“We’re making new funding available now to strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in the satellite communications market, and I look forward to seeing the results of the competition,” UK said Science Minister Nusrat Ghani.

An Impact Evaluation report on the UK’s Investment in the European Space Agency also shows the UK is in the top three nations in terms of scientific output, alongside the US and Germany. The UK committed £374 million per year over five years to ESA in 2019 and this report looks at the impact of that investment in 2020 and 2021.

This ESA funding is vulnerable to cuts as a result of the financial turmoil in the UK.

“I am proud to be representing the UK space sector as we discuss our ambitions ahead of the ESA Council of Ministers next month. There are a series of important programmes on the table and I want to harness opportunities in space to grow the UK economy, create jobs and inspire young people into STEM careers,” said Ghani.

The ARTES programme is one of the UK Space Agency’s key commercial drivers for UK space sector growth and includes projects such as Eurostar Neo. UK involvement, which is expected to bring a 20:1 return on investment, will see new geostationary satellites developed by UK-based Airbus launched into space to provide better broadcast, internet and communications services around the world.

“Our ESA membership delivers huge advantages to the UK, by catalysing investment into the sector, backing innovative companies, and providing access to new missions and capabilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency.

As a founding member of ESA, UK space organisations have close links to the wider international space community, including other space agencies like NASA.

Impact Evaluation of UK Investment in the European Space Agency

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