UKSA invests another £1.6m into Moon and Mars projects

8th Mar 2023
UKSA invests another £1.6m into Moon and Mars projects

The UK Space Agency has been busy funding several projects this year, and has just announced an additional £1.6 million into projects supporting future missions for travelling to and surviving on Mars and beyond. The investment was announced on the 7th of March on Mars Day, a virtual event for schools full of talks and career discussions led by the UKSA and European Space Agency (ESA).

The eight projects are funded by the Enabling Space Exploration fund and are set to “revolutionise our ability to journey deeper into space” through remote technologies and resources found in space to sustain astronauts, the UKSA says.

Eight projects lead the charge

The eight projects are being led by universities and companies across the UK, with the University of Exeter in Devon receiving the largest sum of £363,000 to explore the harmful impact of the space environment on human health. The project would uncover the biological effects of space and research medical treatments for astronauts.

Other institutions involved in include Bangor University in Wales, which received £200,000 to use additive manufacturing for developing nuclear-based fuels for space propulsion, allowing for various fuel configurations that “cannot be easily realised by conventional manufacturing methods”.

Thales Alenia Space in Oxfordshire has received £169,000 to improve a technique for the mining and selection of Moon rock for oxygen extraction. A description of other projects can be found here.

Raising the UK space profile

Each project is being funded by part of the government’s £5 billion investment into space science and technology. Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said the investment will “raise the international profile of UK space skills and expertise” and unlock several business opportunities for the nation. He continued:

“The concept of exploring deeper into space – whether that means returning to the lunar surface through the Artemis programme, or working out how we could travel to, and survive on, Mars and beyond – is a global ambition that has been growing since humanity’s first forays into space in the 1950s… This is an incredibly exciting time for the space exploration sector, and I look forward to seeing how far the results of these projects will reach.”

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