UKSA Funding 9 Innovative Tech Projects

29th Jun 2023
UKSA Funding 9 Innovative Tech Projects

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has announced they are funding a series of projects to boost UK-based space technology innovations. These projects include harnessing solar power for reusable spacecraft and new propulsion systems in an effort to advance the UK’s space economy. UKSA funding is a vital part of developing the country’s space industry.

Funding will come from the UKSA’s Enabling Technologies Programme (ETP) which is designed to support ground-breaking British companies that are working to enhance spaceflight capabilities. Craig Brown, UK Space Agency Director of Investment, said in a press release: “these projects showcase the diversity of skills in space-related science and engineering that are growing all over the UK.” 

What Are the UK Space Agency Funding?

The first round of investment from the ETP – which is part of the National Space Innovation Programme – will total £2.1 million and will be divided between nine projects. Future funding rounds will also target the commercial, academia, and not-for-profit sector. This funding will help British space companies deliver promised cutting-edge technology that will ‘take UK space capabilities to new heights’.

The Nine Projects Receiving Funding

  • The first project will see £240,000 going towards Lancaster University’s E-band travelling wave tubes for high throughput satellites, which are designed to enable 5G and 6G data transmission; 
  • Surrey Space Centre and the University of Surrey will receive £250,000 for their plasma torch rocket electro-thermal thruster, which will enhance in-orbit servicing;
  • Swansea University will also receive £250,000 for their levitated opto-mechanical technologies, that is tailored towards large mass fundamental quantum mechanics and space environment sensing;
  • The University of Strathclyde will receive £250,000 for their micro LEDs for satellite quantum key distribution;
  • Durham University is also set to see £250,000 for their metal optics technology for Earth observation and exploration missions; 
  • A second Durham University project will also receive £190,000 for their image slicer extreme ultraviolet field spectroscopy, which will capture advanced imagery of the sun and transform high energy astrophysics. 
  • University of Southampton will see £240,000 for their silicon photonic beam pointing project, which will enable ‘fully solid-state communications’.
  • Space Forge is set to receive £230,000 for their Project Helios solar array. In partnership with Microlink Devices, the Wales-based company’s solar project will power returnable spacecraft and prolong in-orbit servicing.
  • The final £200,000 segment of funding will go to Imperial College London, who are manufacturing a cold spray for space. Their cold spray additive will help with in-orbit servicing, manufacturing, and exploratory missions.

Funding To Support The Future Of UK Space Technology

The wave of funding is aimed at minimising reliance on non-European space companies, and to support home-grown space technologies. The £2.1 million will, according to the UK Government: “[support] experts and organisations across the country [and] is a National Space Strategy priority.” UKSA previously committed £71 million which backed emerging technology from smaller space organisations.

Mr Brown added: “By supporting innovations in emerging and new areas of space technology, such as space-based solar power, extreme ultraviolet Integral Field Spectroscopy, electrothermal propulsion and more, we ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of global advances in space, generating more business opportunities and inspiring more people about the many career options that this thriving sector offers.”

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