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UK Space Agency to invest £50m into satellite

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The UK Space Agency has announced that £50 million will be allocated for “ambitious and innovative” projects in the UK.

The funding is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Services (ARTES) and is available for a range of projects such as developing new satellite constellations, the ground systems needed to access them or whole end-to-end systems delivering new services to customers.

This could include integrating 5G systems to unlock connectivity for people and machines through upgrading infrastructure to enable new markets and services such as drones or driverless haulage.

This will create space-based networks to rival cable-based terrestrial ones, helping UK operators to use disruptive new technologies and business models.

George Freeman, the UK’s science minister said: “Developing UK space capabilities and maximising commercial opportunities are key to the National Space Strategy, as part of our plans to become a leading power in space and build on a sector already worth £16.5 billion to the UK economy.

“We are determined to invest in our world class satellite technology sector, which is why I committed £1.8 billion for UK participation in ESA programs over the next five years and recently committed £190 million specifically to participate in international telecommunications missions.”

“This latest £50 million UK Space Agency funding will help more companies into our vibrant fast growth UK space telecoms sector, helping drive both growth and wider UK economic resilience.”

The UK has a fast-growing satellite communications industry, and the GOV.UK website states that its services contribute £10.4 billion to the economy and to the creation of more than 26,600 jobs.

This investment will pave the way for services that can provide better quality connectivity in remote and hard-to-reach places, higher bandwidth, lower latency and increased security.

“This funding will help UK companies that have the right expertise and ambition to become global players in this market and lead on ground-breaking technologies that will enhance the wider UK space sector, create jobs and generate further investment,” said Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency.

“I look forward to seeing the results of the competition and following the successful projects in their next steps.”

The UK is a leading investor in ARTES, having already committed £190 million to the programme at the ESA Council of Ministers in November.