UK Space Industry Set to Build Ten New Satellites
Over the next three years, ten new satellites the size of a shoebox are to be built after a signing between the European Space Agency and AAC Clyde Space UK. Thesatellites will be built in Glasgow, and the initiative comes as part of a new innovative constellation service.
The satellites will be manufactured as part of a three-year project labelled ‘xSPANCION’, which will focus on the production of a satellite constellation with the aim of providing businesses with services such as Earth Observation, remote sensing, and satellite-based communications.
The 19-million-euro ($22.5 million) government-backed contract will focus on providing companies looking to harness satellite technology to overcome challenges faced in business
without the need for investing in the expertise or architecture required within the field, with space-based services.
The venture will not only involve the design, production, and manufacturing processes, but also the launch co-ordination, the attainment of relevant licensing, as well as the new technologies for future developments. Such technologies include propulsion, a customer interface, intersatellite links, and secure and safe transmission of data.
The xSPANCION project will see the collaboration between AAC Clyde Space UK, the University of Strathclyde, Bright Ascension, Alden Legal UK (a London-based law firm), the Satellite Applications Catapult and D-Orbit UK to design, manufacture and launch the 10 cubesats.
This project will see a higher volume of space technology being developed over a shorter amount of time which is imperative to achieving the launch of small satellites from the UK in the near future.
The cash injection provided to develop the initiative is an investment from the European Space Agency Pioneer Partnership Projects programme, aiming to provide support to businesses and organisations in harnessing advanced space-services and space-technologies.
Through the European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency will co-fund the initiative with financial support amounting to €9.9 million, and certain areas within the project will receive financial support from Scottish Enterprise.
The first stage of the project will be funded in part by the UK Space Agency through ESA, with an equal financial investment contributed by AAC Clyde and the company’s partners. Throughout the second phase of the project, additionally funded in part by the UK Space Agency through ESA, the 10 satellites will be manufactured, four of which will be demonstrated into orbit. Further funding is estimated to be secured through the acquirement of constellation services from customers.
In June 2020, AAC Clyde Space declared that a £2.3 million grant received from Scottish Enterprise will be utilised to co-finance the manufacture, development, and operations of the next generation of small satellites and nano satellites. The grant – which will be provided over the course of three years – is designed to support 50% of AAC Clyde Space’s developmental costs of ‘next generation’ satellite manufacture.
1. GOV.UK (2020), 10 new satellites to be built in Glasgow in next three years as part of new innovative constellation service
2. Electronics Weekly (2020), AAC Clyde Space UK signs deal for 10 Glasgow-built xSPANCION satellites
3. Space News (2020), AAC Clyde Space to develop cubesats to offer array of services