UK satellites set to launch today on SpaceX rocket from Kennedy

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket 24062021
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket 24062021

Three UK-built satellites are set to launch on a SpaceX rocket today from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Monitoring and tackling climate change and tracking endangered wildlife are among the missions of the three.

UK companies have received nearly £15 million from the UK Space Agency, through the European Space Agency’s Pioneer Partnership Programme, to develop the trio of satellites.

Two of the satellites, built by Spire, in Glasgow, will develop optical intersatellite links (ISL) which will provide a step change in how we get large amounts of data from space down to Earth. This will enable constellations of satellites to become integrated networks in space, capable of delivering very high volumes of data at speed to anywhere in the world, including remote and rural areas, disaster areas and at sea.

This enhanced data and better predictive analytics will improve our understanding of the environment and the impact we have on it.

Spire has been supported by the UK Space Agency, through the European Space Agency’s Pioneer Partnership Programme with nearly £9 million of total funding, to develop a range of innovative technologies and data platforms including the pair of satellites planned for tomorrow’s launch.

Theresa Condor, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Spire Space Services, said: “At a critical time for our planet, and with COP26 taking place later this year, we need to be able to map out and report on rapidly changing phenomena on Earth. That is the core purpose of Spire’s constellation. Enhanced data and better predictive analytics help us to further understand our environment and the impact we have on it.

“Optical ISL allows us to deliver the most time sensitive data faster and at higher volumes for critical applications such as weather monitoring and forecasting.”

The third satellite is built by In-Space Missions, based in Hampshire, supported by £4.9 million of funding for this and future validation missions expected to launch in 2022/2023. The Faraday Phoenix satellite incorporates payloads for six customers including Airbus, Lacuna, SatixFy and Aeternum.

Doug Liddle, CEO at In-Space Missions, said: “The team here at In-Space is incredibly proud to be launching our highly capable and innovative satellite which has come together in less than a year. We’re particularly excited to be flying on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral - a location with such an amazing history.”

The In-Space satellite includes the demonstration payload for Lacuna Space, which is developing a ground-breaking satellite IoT service, thanks to £800,000 in funding. This is the next step in Lacuna’s space network, further improving the company’s capability to service massive deployments for the IoT.

www.gov.uk/uksa

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