Lockheed Martin backs £50m for UK space skills, R&D centre
Northumbria University in Newcastle has secured £50 million to create a space skills, research and technology centre in the UK backed by Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin will be the anchor tenant for the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre (NESST) which is expected to directly support the creation of over 350 jobs and inject over £260 million into the North East economy, albeit over the next 30 years.
This was one of a number of space announcements as part of the UK’s spending review, although the UK is providing £800,000, with Lockheed Martin will move in when the NESST building reopens in 2025.
In addition to this, Lockheed Martin committed a further £15 million investment in NESST to work with Northumbria’s experts on collaborative research, technology development, in-demand skills provision and STEM engagement activities over the next ten years.
NESST aims to be a new national space asset that brings together industry and academia to collaborate on internationally significant space research and technological developments such as optical satellite communications, space weather and space-based energy.
Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University first joined forces in 2022 to support the development of skills, research and technology in the space sector and Lockheed Martin has previously invested £630,000 into collaborations with the University on a number of trailblazing projects, including working together to create machine learning algorithms to detect and record nanojets, as well as joining forces to accelerate the use of space-based solar power.
The £15 million from Lockheed Martin will be split evenly across capital equipment to be used in the centre and research and development work.
Northumbria University has received £5 million from the UK Space Agency to take forward work to build a new laser-based satellite communications system and awards totalling £2.6 million from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to fund studies into the Sun’s activity and its impact on Earth and to create a new Centre for Doctoral Training in the field of data intensive science.
“This is a pivotal moment, not just for Northumbria University, but for the wider North East region and indeed, for the UK space sector as a whole,” said Professor Andy Long, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University. “This catalytic funding from both the UK Space Agency and Lockheed Martin recognises the world-leading excellence in all aspects of space research at Northumbria University. Quite simply, NESST will be a game-changer for the whole of the North East, ensuring the region becomes a major hub for innovation in the global space economy.”
Nik Smith, Regional Director for UK and Europe, Lockheed Martin, said: “NESST is one part of Lockheed Martin’s investment plans for our space business in the UK and will provide early prototyping and test facilities for new capabilities that could eventually be manufactured onshore. It will also be a reskilling hub, providing the pipeline of talent we will need to deliver national and even global programmes.”