People in Space: Craig Clark, founder of AAC Clyde Space

24th Feb 2020
People in Space: Craig Clark, founder of AAC Clyde Space
AAC Clyde Space is one of the leading companies producing space hardware in the UK. Founded in 2005, this enterprise has clients all over the world, shipping nano-satellites, control systems, solar panels, and other high-tech space products worldwide. Clyde Space owes its success to its founder and CEO, Craig Clark, whose activity is highly esteemed not only in his homeland but all over the world. In 2012, Clark won a KTP and in 2013, he received the Royal Innovation and Technology Award. At the age of 47, Clark is a member of the UK Space Leadership Council, a graduate member of the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology), and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Cosmonautics, as well as an honorary member of IESIS 2017. He is already a prominent figure in the history of space exploration as part of his journey that started 25 years ago. Craig Clark was awarded an MBE in 2013.
Craig Clark, Clyde Space
Craig Clark, Founder of Clyde Space.

Clyde Space Story: from a small Scottish company to an international leader

Craig Clark was born in Central Scotland in 1973. At the age of 21, he graduated from the University of Glasgow with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Soon, Clark started working as an energy systems engineer at Surrey Satellite, a company dealing with small satellite manufacture and operations. This was Clark’s first step into the space industry and the beginning of an impressive career. In 2001, Clark received a master’s degree in satellite engineering from the University of Surrey and, four years later, founded his own company — Clyde Space Ltd. Clyde Space Ltd. focused on providing energy solutions for small satellites. Its success was skyrocketing, and, by 2017, the company already occupied about 40% of the global market. Clyde Space most notable clients are large enterprises, such as Raytheon, Airbus, and OHB. In 2014, the company made its first small satellite launch from Russia — UKube-1. However, most clients come from the US, which is not at all surprising. To meet their demand, Clark opened an American branch in 2016. The decision was not only logical but also quite successful. Deliveries to American customers very quickly exceeded 60% of the total turnover. One more event was quite notable in 2016: the company received the Glasgow Business Award for Innovation. 2017 brought even more awards to Clark and his company’s portfolio. Clyde Space Ltd. received the Queen’s Award for Entrepreneurial Innovation, as well as the Sunday Times Innovation Award. In January 2018, Clyde Space merged with the Swedish company AAC Microtec under the new name of AAC Clyde Space. However, the company continues to develop products for the small satellite market. CubeSats nano-satellites are just one of its specialties.

Satellite as a service

Today, AAC Clyde Space is one of the leading small satellite companies that deal with nano-satellite technology. One of its high-end products is Orientation, Definition, and Control System (ADCS) developed for the US Navy. The system allows you to determine the exact location of the satellites and ensures high-accuracy control over the spacecraft. The company has developed a number of standard off-the-shelf platforms using the CubeSat technology. They ensure support for the next-generation, high-performance constellations: satellite networks with global real-time coverage. Now, about half of AAC Clyde Space’s revenue comes from the sale of spacecraft components (power supplies, on-board computers, solar panels). However, Clark is confident that soon the market demand will change, and most of the orders will relate specifically to constellations. Clark believes that in the future, customers will pay less and less attention to the space industry specifics. That is why the ultimate goal of AAC Clyde Space is to create an off-the-shelf product. Their ‘satellite as a service’ concept implies that the company is responsible for the full scope of services, including development, construction, the satellite launch, and operation.
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