The UK Space Agency has announced funding for work which aims to prolong the life of satellites, as part of efforts to ensure space remains sustainable for future generations
The package includes a £2 million upgrade to the Satellite Applications Catapult’s In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM) facility at the Westcott Space Cluster in Aylesbury. The facility will provide unique capabilities in the UK where companies can verify, validate and demonstrate a range of in-orbit operations including manufacturing, servicing, inspection, repair and assembly.
In addition almost £1.5 million is going into feasibility studies on refuelling satellites in space, to extend their life and reduce the amount of space debris.
There are now around 37,000 pieces of space debris in orbit measuring more than 10cm, and an estimated one million pieces sized 1-10cm. With increasing numbers of satellites being launched, the UK is taking leadership on this global issue.
Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:
Tackling space debris and maintaining ease of navigation in space is vital to allowing future exploration and protecting the everyday services we all rely on, from location and financial services to weather forecasting and broadband. To ensure that long-term sustainability, we are funding new technologies for satellite refuelling, and upgrading this important national facility at Westcott to help bring innovations to market faster, in turn growing our economy.
The UK’s IOSM facility at the Westcott Space Cluster will become the first in the UK capable of verification, validation and demonstration of in-orbit operations.