UK Space Agency Funds Airbus To Establish Cutting-Edge Space Catalyst in Stevenage28th Nov 2023
UK Space Agency has granted Airbus Defence and Space has granted £3.9 million to create a state-of-the-art space and connectivity Space Catalyst at its Stevenage headquarters. This initiative aims to foster growth in the broader space ecosystem by providing a range of facilities to both new and existing players in the space sector.
Aibus’s Space Catalyst – what will it be?
The newly funded Space Catalyst will be an integral part of Airbus’ Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) program, designed to enhance the activities of the UK space supply chain, research endeavours, and outreach activities. The new hub will be available for new and existing space players in the UK.
Ben Bridge, Chairman of Airbus Defence and Space UK, expressed enthusiasm about the award, stating, “We have always been committed to encouraging new entrants into the UK’s vibrant space economy, and this award will enable us to take it to the next level.”
The dedicated facilities at the 14-acre Stevenage site will offer laboratories, test facilities, and existing infrastructure to space entities, leveraging the expertise of Airbus’ 1,200-strong skilled workforce.
National Space Strategy in work
The investment for Space Catalyst aligns with the government’s commitment to building one of the most innovative and attractive space economies globally, as outlined in the National Space Strategy.
The UKSA’s Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) competition, launched in May 2023, has allocated over £47 million to support initiatives that expand the UK’s industrial space-based economy. The UK space industry, contributing over £17.5 billion annually to the economy, continues to thrive.
As part of its Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) initiative, Airbus plans to establish various laboratories focusing on disciplines such as robotics, flat satellites, digital twins, and cybersecurity. These facilities will be open for use by companies in the sector, facilitating the rapid maturation and de-risking of innovative hardware.
The high-tech lab space will support collaborative work, including Virtual and Augmented Reality applications, allowing for mission demonstrations and scenario planning. The initiative will attract companies across diverse fields, including space robotics, remote sensing, planetary sciences, climate change, electric aviation, and mixed autonomy traffic operations.
Additionally, the Space Catalyst will explore collaborations with the Stevenage Bio Science Catalyst to advance space-based bioscience research and commercialization. Airbus remains committed to fostering an open and inclusive community through CUSP, providing opportunities for suppliers, researchers, and newcomers to the space industry, ensuring sustained growth in the UK’s space sector.
In July 2023, in collaboration with the University of Leicester, Space Park Leicester, and Airbus Defence and Space, UKSA announced a degree-earning space engineering apprenticeship. The apprenticeship aims to help bring more skilled workers into the industry faster.