Image: UKSA

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has awarded funding to eighteen projects aimed at boosting the space sector across the UK.

The £6.5 million includes support for high impact, locally led schemes and space cluster development managers to help the space sector grow across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

One project will explore the potential for a space observatory and planetarium to be established in Snowdonia, taking advantage of the area being part of the most extensive dark skies reserve in the UK.

Another will look at how space technology could be used to tackle water leakage and monitor coastal erosion and stability in Cornwall.

The projects will harness space-enabled technology to address local priorities, such as using Earth Observation data to improve local public services and help innovative engineering companies access the UK’s growing space markets.

Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (SIT), Michelle Donelan, said: “These projects will tap into the wealth of talent found in places like Cornwall and the east Midlands, as well as across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while using space and satellite technology to support local communities.

“This funding will help link local clusters to valuable networks of innovators and investors, showcasing the strengths of the UK space sector to international investors and levelling up the economy.”

Piloting local activity

The projects are focused on piloting local activity that could be scaled up and rolled out nationally and are being supported by the UK Space Agency’s delivery partner the Satellite Applications Catapult.

The funding follows £600,000 given to 10 space clusters across the UK in February 2022, with some of those who received funding then getting further support this time round.

The £6.5 million includes £485,000 for STFC RAL Space’s Chilbolton Advanced Satellite Tracking Radar, in Hampshire, is one of three national sensors that track space objects. The radar which can detect objects about the size of a toaster at an altitude of 1,000 km, provides crucial data for satellite tracking operations. The funding will provide upgrades to improve reliability and robustness of the sensor and maintain a key sovereign asset.

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