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Satellite and Space Projects News - 25th August 2015

John Worthy
25/08/2015

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United Kingdom

Our latest digest of recent news in the satellite and space projects sector.

UK space partnerships with Singapore and Indonesia: 

The UK Space Agency has signed an MoU with Indonesia that will see the UK share expertise and help Indonesia develop training in areas such as infrastructure building and data interpretation.  UK companies, such as SSTL, will benefit from the opportunity to become providers of space technology to the Indonesian Government.  In parallel, the UK Space Agency is funding a £1.6m project between Spire UK and Singapore’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) to develop and test a product that will allow fishing authorities, NGO’s and coastal guards to easily detect and track illegal fishing.  The project could lead to the production of up to 50 nano-satellites in Glasgow.

Liability cap for satellite operators: 

Changes to the UK Outer Space Act due to come into force on 1 October 2015 will cap the liability of UK satellite operators to the government.  Currently the UK's Outer Space Act requires licensees to indemnify the UK Government against third party liabilities without limit.  This potential unlimited liability has presented difficulties for satellite operators in securing finance. Other countries, such as the US and France, offer a less demanding licensing structure in allowing the operator's liability to be limited to the extent of insurance cover.  From 1 October 2015, all new licence applications under the Outer Space Act for space activity will be assessed for potential mission risks, and if appropriate, a suitable cap on liability will be included in the licence.  In most cases (single satellite missions employing established launchers, satellite platforms and operational profiles) the cap will be set at 60 Million Euro.

New UK space facilities: 

Two new space facilities opened in the UK on 9 July at the UK Space gateway on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.  The European Space Agency's European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) will be home to approximately 100 ESA employees by the end of this year, including teams in telecommunications and integrated applications.  The UK Space Gateway is also now home to The Science and Technology Facilities Council RAL Space's integration and test facility.  This £27.7m facility will be used for future projects including ESA's Sentinel 4 mission as part of Europe's Copernicus programme and solar and heliospheric physics with the Solar Orbiter mission.

UK and South Africa MoU: 

The UK Space Agency and the South African Space Agency (SANSA) signed an MoU on 16 July that will see the two countries increase collaboration in areas including space weather research, space applications related to climate change, and satellite data sharing.  Under the MoU, the two countries will also engage in greater sharing of information, technology and personnel.  The two space agencies are already collaborating on SBAS-Africa – a programme to deliver a satellite-based air navigation system in Africa under the umbrella of the UK’s International Partnership Space Programme.

UK Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS):

The IGS (whose stakeholders include trade association UKSpace, the UK Space Agency, Satellite Applications Catapult, Innovate UK, Knowledge Transfer network and the academic community) has published an update report.  The report summarises IGS's achievements since the strategy's conception in 2010 and sets out actions for the next phase of the programme.  IGS aims to grow the UK’s share of the world’s space economy to 10% by 2030.  Among the priorities outlined in the report are:

  • To grow exports by enhancing UK competitiveness.  IGS has set a target of increasing UK space-related exports from £3.5bn today to £25bn by 2030;
  • To ensure that the UK regulatory environment, particularly spectrum regulation, supports business growth.
  • To increase investment in the National Space Growth Programme so that the UK is able to access high value market opportunities. 

The full report is available on the UKSpace website

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