Weekly Space News Roundup for 28th February 2021
The governments of the United Kingdom and Australia have signed the ‘Space Bridge’ agreement which has been in the works for a number of months. The idea behind the agreement, officially called the UK-Australia ‘Space Bridge’ Framework Agreement, is to provide quote significant opportunities for space companies in both countries.
This agreement is a significant step and represents the closest bilateral agreement between two nations of civil space industry collaboration anywhere in the world. The Space Industry Association of Australia’s CEO is James Brown, who commented: “Australia and the UK have deep shared histories and bright shared futures in space technology and services development. The Space Bridge thickens connections between both growing space markets and provides greater opportunity for UK companies to help build Australia’s full-spectrum space industry and for Australian companies to bring their innovative solutions to the UK’s well developed space economy. We look forward to exploring deeper partnerships between Australian and UK space industry.”
Meanwhile, the UK Space Agency hasn’t been slacking, as they partner up with the Scottish Space Leadership Council to launch a Sustainability Challenge. In keeping with their “bring it to the people” approach, the UK Space Agency is now seeking people from any industry facing sustainability challenges to come forward, in order to pose them to the UK Space Industry to look at solving. Similar challenges in the past have had an impressive response with deployed solutions coming forward. Indeed, the Gravity Challenge 2 enabled by Delloitte and run across the UK and Australian space markets concluded this month, finding solutions to problems posed by the UK Hydrographic office, Sydney Water, The Marine Stewardship Council and many others.
The UK Space Agency and Scottish Space Leadership Council challenge is described as “A Launchpad for Net Zero” and will close in March 2021.
The UK Government wasn’t finished there either. A comprehensive package of COVID support for the Space Industry was announced on Friday, focussed on three areas:
1. government coordination
2. export support
3. investment promotion
The Space Sector COVID Support Plan’s 3 interventions are to be delivered against 5 aims. Perhaps confusingly, there are also 8 deliverables, including one which highlights Space Park Leicester, a project that has been in the space news recently for the additional funding announced last year, and the strong project progress that has been seen on site!
Key among the remaining deliverables though is the announcement of a new Space Sector Export Academy. It will be created to upskill #SMEs and prepare them to thrive when seeking foreign investment or export opportunities.
A virtual round-table is scheduled for the Space Industry to review these measures on 1st March. If that describes you, you can sign up for that session linked in the comments below.
Pictured: Artist Impression of LEO Knight, an In Space Servicing Drone.
Airbus Defence and Space, who own and operate large facilities in the United Kingdom are enthusiastically researching into in-space manufacturing. Christophe Figus is the Roadmap Owner of In Space Manufacturing and Assembly at Airbus, believes that his area is critical saying: “Companies that master in-orbit manufacturing and assembly will win the future.”
Airbus reveals how their metallic 3d printing technologies are expected to morph into printing with lunar regolith in the future to provide new products such as radiation shields, habitats and even more complex parts such as tooling for rovers.
The company isn’t just focused on surface operations though. They’re also working on assembly in free-fall to create so-called mega-structures, or in the mid-term very large structures such as antennas.
It won’t come as a surprise that a major part of their plans in this sphere focus on robotic construction. Robotics in space will be the subject of a future Giant-Leap.Space article, so stay tuned for that discussion on the future of human space-flight, astronautics and robotics.
We promised you a sneak peak into our exclusive chat with the UK Head of Rolls-Royce, one of the UK’s best known brands around the World, who recently publicised their research work on a future nuclear propulsion technology in partnership with the UK Space Agency.
It’s clear that the company feels best placed of all enterprises in the world to merge their experience with vehicle-borne nuclear technologies with aviation credentials, and that a focus on long-distance, efficient space-flight has gained a lot of momentum in their global business in a relatively short space of time. It seems clear that whilst some exciting engineering challenges remain, there is a lot of confidence that Rolls-Royce aim to become a relevant, frontier driving force behind the UK and global Space Industries for many decades to come.
Many of you will recall that last week we reported on a fake viral video pertaining to be from Perseverance Rover on the surface of Mars. Well this week we have benefited from a huge cache of incredible imagery from the sky-crane and the rover itself through the final descent, landing and first few hours on the surface of the red planet.
Unfortunately, the microphone tasked to record the sounds of atmospheric entry didn’t function properly and we’re left to wait for that particular sound-byte from a future mission. However, another microphone did provide sounds of the rover functioning nominally on the surface and picked up the unmistakable sound of gusts of the thin, CO2 atmosphere on Mars moving about the stationary Rover.
Job of the Week
A senior executive role with Skyrora – a Space Launch Company based in Edinburgh.
Skyrora are looking for a Chief Operational Officer / Business Development Executive to be based at HQ in Scotland, but with responsibilities across the business which has sites in the North of Scotland and in Europe at their Engineering facilities.
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Thanks for checking in, and until next time remember that every Giant Leap is set up by thousands of small steps.