It was a golden July for the global space industry as people around the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Appropriately, it was a very busy month for the UK space sector, demonstrating how far it has come over the past 50 years. The UK and US space agencies signed a statement of intent, paving the way for UK commercial satellite communication and navigation services to be used by future NASA missions to the Moon.
During the month, UKspace announcement the appointment of Inmarsat’s Nick Shave as its new Vice Chair, while the Government announced major investment in a UK space defence programme. Elsewhere, Goonhilly opened a new data centre, OneWeb tested six satellites in Low Earth Orbit enabling the fastest real-time video streaming in Full HD from space and Skyrora successfully carried out testing on a fully 3D-printed, commercial rocket engine for the first time in the UK.
During August, Lumi Space became the first Open Cosmos and ESA Business Applications ‘Call to Orbit’ winner, while ESA’s ExoMars rover was fitted and integrated with its Panoramic Camera (PanCam) at Airbus in Stevenage, in advance of it travelling to Toulouse for crucial testing ahead of delivery to Thales Alenia Space.
The golden glow of the Apollo 11 anniversary and the warm UK weather continued into early autumn, which proved to be an exceptionally busy month for the whole industry.
Following the inaugural Space Hub at DSEI, which featured a dozen UKspace members, the sector moved en masse to the International Convention Centre in Wales for the 2019 UK Space Conference, where many UK companies of all sizes and types showcased their expertise. The conference featured addresses from several ministers – including Space Minister, Chris Skidmore, Minister for Defence Procurement, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and Welsh Govt Minister of Environment and Transport, Ken Skates – all of whom praised the innovation, vision and drive of the UK space sector, and offered their ongoing commitment to supporting it.
During the conference, UKspace announced the appointment of Will Whitehorn as its new President, taking over from Andy Green, who had be in post for a decade.
There were also plenty of good news stories from UKspace members during September, including SSTL releasing spectacular Raspberry Pi camera image and video of the Earth, Airbus developing technology for ultra-high-resolution satellites for UK MOD and SSTL, Oxford University and the Surrey Space Centre working together on a lightweight, low-volume, demonstrator Cassegrain deployable telescope.