UK Space Launch Effort Gains £2 Billion Agenda17th Jun 2022
The UK government commissioned a pioneering Defence Science & Technology agenda to develop Britain’s satellite launch capabilities. More than £2 billion of R&D funding has been allocated to the project between now and 2026.
The Science & Technology Portfolio outlines a variety of ambitious programmes. Major foci include driving cutting-edge research forward and encouraging collaboration throughout the industry. The agenda also emphasizes meeting current and developing new Defence capabilities.
Jeremy Quin, the Minister for Defence Procurement, stated:
“Exploring and using space is crucial for developing cutting-edge Defence capabilities that will ensure our Armed Forces can operate at the highest level anywhere on the battlefield.
We are investing record amounts across our science and technology portfolio to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of innovation and sustains its strategic advantage over our adversaries.”
Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction CubeSat Experiment (CIRCE)
CIRCE is one of the ground-breaking projects featured in the new portfolio. The UK is working with the Naval Research Laboratory in the U.S. on this project. The launch, however, will be historic. Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket from Newquay’s Spaceport Cornwall will launch CIRCE later this year.
CIRCE is a miniaturised space weather suite that includes two satellites presently scheduled for launch this year. The hardware in CIRCE consists of a trio of miniature sensors connected to two cereal box-sized satellites to gather data on the weather in space.
Commander of the UK Space Command, Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, said the following:
“Defence science and technological activity in space has never been more important, whether it is in support of military operations or helping to combat climate change, defence innovation is at the forefront of this work.
After it enters orbit from Spaceport Cornwall, CIRCE will enhance our understanding of space weather and help us to keep critical satellites safe from the many hazards associated with operating in space.