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Satellite and Space Projects News - June 2021

John Worthy
22/06/2021

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United Kingdom

Review of the latest updates from the Satellite and Space sector.

Fieldfisher Space Webinar 6 July - spaceports and launch opportunities: our next Space Webinar brings together a panel of industry experts to debate the new opportunities in launch and spaceports. Chaired by Fieldfisher partner John Worthy, the panel includes insights from representatives of Spaceport Cornwall, Spaceport 1 and Deimos UK, assessing the growth prospects for commercial spaceflight in the UK, the investor appetite for these businesses and the impact of the new UK regulatory regime. To join us on 6 July, please RSVP

G7 commits to clean up in space: at their Leaders' Summit in Cornwall, UK, the G7 nations on 13 June 2021 pledged to take action to address the challenges of space debris. Their report recognises that the current figure of over 900,000 pieces of space debris is only likely to grow in the coming years and presents challenges for the all space users.

UK supports space environment: in its 16 June 2021 report, the UK Prime Minister's Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform calls for the UK to be the first country in the world to champion the ‘space environment’, namely: sustainability of space, sustainability in space and sustainability from space. The report also recommends that the Civil Aviation Authority should be properly resourced to carry out its new responsibilities as spaceflight regulator.

Arqit raises US$400m in SPAC deal: Arqit, a UK start-up that uses quantum encryption technology to provide device security via the cloud, is to raise US$400m via a SPAC deal that will see the company merge with Centricus Acquisition Corp. The combined group will have a value of US$1.4 billion.

Horizon Europe ban on UK space role is dropped: after months of lobbying, the European Commission is reported to have removed the barrier to the UK participating in EU research on space projects under the €95 billion Horizon Europe programme. The proposal had been criticised as treating the UK as presenting a degree of security risk on a par with China. Under the new solution, the UK may still be excluded from specific projects, but only after a unanimous vote of all EU member states.

UK space sector creates 3000+ jobs: According to the latest "Size and Health of the UK Space Industry" report, commissioned by the UK Space Agency, employment in the UK space sector in 2018/2019 increased by 3,200 compared to the previous 2016/2017 study. Income rose from £14.8 billion to £16.4 billion, representing growth of 5.7% or 2.7% per annum in real terms. The study also reports that R&D investment increased by 18%, and over £360 billion of wider UK economic activity is now supported by satellites, up £60 billion since 2016/2017.

Isotropic Systems secures €18.5m from UK Space Agency: UK developer of transformational broadband technologies, Isotropic Systems, is to receive €18.5 million from the UK Space Agency. The funding will be applied towards the company's participation in the European Space Agency's Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) Competitiveness and Growth programme (C&G). Isotropic Systems is developing the world's first multi-service, high-bandwidth, low power, fully integrated range of high-throughput terminals.

UK moves closer to commercial spaceflight: The UK government has asked Parliament to approve draft regulations on spaceflight and the investigation of spaceflight accidents, including the appointment of a UK space accident investigation authority. The regulations bring the UK a step closer to its ambition to achieve commercial spaceflight launches from the UK in 2022.

UK space companies to develop beam-hopping satellite: A consortium of UK space tech companies, led by OneWeb, has received more than £32 million from the UK Space Agency via the European Space Agency's Sunrise Programme to support the development of a beam-hopping satellite. The technology will enable satellites to switch which part of the world they cover by remotely directing beams to boost coverage in certain locations. Use cases include emergency and disaster response and the provision of in-flight broadband. Other companies in the consortium include SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK.

OneWeb launches 36 more satellites: OneWeb now has 218 satellites in its Low Earth Orbit constellation following the successful launch of another 36 satellites on 28 May 2021. The company is aiming to deliver the satellites required for its connectivity solution to regions north of 50 degrees latitude in July 2021, and to connect broadband data users in the UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada by the end of the year. Global services are expected in 2022. 

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