3 July 2014 – A Luxembourg satellite manufacturer is to join forces with a UK company to launch a new, large deployable antenna on a satellite to be launched in 2019.
The cooperation, which will be officially signed on July 15 in the UK, will reduce Europe’s dependence on the US for antennae and will likely strengthen Luxembourg’s role in the European space industry.
Oxford Space Systems, which was founded in September last year, has been commissioned to design and construct a new, large deployable antenna to be bolted onto a satellite that will be built in Luxembourg by LuxSpace, based in Betzdorf. This satellite will observe ships over 300 tonnes on a global scale, sharing information on their locations, direction, speed and other details.
According to Oxford Space Systems MD Mike Lawton, the new antenna differs from others on the market because of its “lower complexity, we can store in a smaller volume (stowage efficiency) and we’re lower cost.” Furthermore, it is expected to provide a better reception than existing antenna.
The British Embassy to Luxembourg held a reception on Wednesday to celebrate the cross-border cooperation between the two firms. Both countries have invested heavily in the space industry with the UK’s Technology Strategy Broad putting £100,000 into Oxford Space Systems.
Meanwhile, Luxembourg is the biggest contributor per capita to the European Space Agency (ESA), at the presidency of which Luxembourg holds for the next two years.
Despite being a recent start-up, the team at Oxford Space Systems have worked together for several years at the ABSL space products. This contract will be their chance to prove their design works in actual conditions.
“The chance to partner with LuxSpace will allow us to get an in-orbit demonstration,” Mr Lawton told wort.lu, adding: “No-one believes your technology works in space unless you’ve flown a mission. Then, there’s a stampede for second place.”
Luxembourg Economy Minister Etienne Schneider was present at the reception and commended the cooperation between the two firms. He said that during Luxembourg’s presidency of the ESA, the goal was to push the space industry in Luxembourg further by having a cluster of initiatives, “to see what we can do together, where can we have cooperations with other companies?”.
Minister Schneider alluded to a project he is working on with a US firm which he said will be “at least as important” as when global leading satellite firm SES Astra set down roots in the Grand Duchy.