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  • Writer's picturePhilip Day

Weekly UK Space Roundup 2nd July 2020

My goodness, what a busy week it has been for the UK Space Industry this week. Some of the juiciest news is fresh from the latter half of the week too, bringing you bang up-to-date with all you need to know about the UK Space Industry, let's get into the Giant-Leap Super Summary:

Space Perspective Announce New Luxury Space-Tourism Company

The American team behind almost all of the Human Stratospheric flight experience under a balloon ( Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum) branched out from their previous company to start Space Perspective (link goes to their website). The 'Neptune' capsule (pictured) is planned to carry 8 passengers into the Stratosphere over a couple of hours before landing, or should I say, splashing down with them pending a ship-bourne recovery and disembarkation.

Presently, the team are working out of Florida's Space Coast, but are already seeking opportunities to launch from elsewhere in the World. For our article on this, and suggestion of how this could be achieved here in the UK, check out out LinkedIn post.

Skyrora successfully static test Skylark-L Rocket

(Recommend sound off on this video)

As you can see, the Skylark-L test went beautifully taking them another step closer to their operational Skylark-XL orbital operations from 2023, on the company's 3rd birthday which wasn't the only one this week to be celebrated in style. USA's Firefly Aerospace also static tested a rocket engine in Texas, this time with a bit of a twist. Check this out:

(Recommend sound on for this video)

Thales to build first modules for Axiom Space Station

As you can see, the Axiom Space Station will be of modular construction, and will initially be attached to the ISS. This on-orbit construction will be led by two modules which Axiom has given Thales Permission to Proceed on designing and constructing.

These modules, (Axiom Node 1 (AxN1) and Habitation Module (AxH)) will be the first to attache to the ISS and will include a new, much larger viewing area (like the ISS Cupola module also built by Thales).

It's a wonderful moment when we realise that the ISS hasn't finished growing up, and to see permanent commercial modules is something really exciting and, well new!

For more detail about the enterprise check out our article. But for our summary we will leave you with the final render of the station after she detaches from her ISS mother:

Shetland Space Centre Gets the Go Ahead from Planners

The headline says it all on this one, and it sure is controversial for some environmentalists and also some Nimbys who cite real concerns for the local bog lands. However, the planning permission sets the scene for the UKs first commercial vertical launch facility ever, and it is expected that Skyrora and other rockets will launch up to 12 times a year from the Orbex site as soon as 2022.

OneWeb Satellites declared Bankruptcy in USA, but UK Government might step in with £500m

This is an absolutely huge headline this week. OneWeb as you probably know has a UK and USA arm, and their manufacturing business across the pond hasn't survived the economic turmoil of the present global pandemic.

UK Government is in discussions to form a consortium to save the business and bring the manufacturing the the UK alongside partners and existing shareholders such as Airbus with an injection of £500m. A not inconsiderable sub that could signal the step-change in UK government approach to Space that industry experts such as Nick Shave (Chair of UKSpace) have been calling for. Indeed more from Nick later on!

More ISS News as QinetiQ lands ESA experiments

The contract known as HOST1 consists of four heat exchange experiments totalling almost $18m EUR of investment (when added to the recent HOST2 success for the company) will launch in 2026 to the ISS to help understand cooling equipment such as computers and solar panels in micro-gravity environments.

Nick Shave - Appointed Chair of UKSpace this week wastes no time in publishing vision

Well known to industry professionals, Nick was welcomed into post as the Chairman of UKSpace earlier this week, and today he published his 5 point vision to turn the UK into a "Space Power".

This could well be the most impactful news we will report this month, as Nick gets busy influencing HM Government to invest in Space both financially and politically, following their announcement that the UK Space Council is now officially listed as a Cabinet Committee.

You can read Nick's full vision here, but we've summarised it for you:

Nick's most inspiring words:

The next few months – with the development of a new National Space Strategy, the Integrated Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – present a once in a generation opportunity for the UK space sector. If we are to secure the outcome we want, we must be better than ever at demonstrating our value as a highly skilled, productive and innovative sector, critical to the UK’s future prosperity.

Nick's 5 key outcomes required by 2022:

  1. Recognise Space as critical asset to national security, global influence and prosperity.

  2. Ambitious, cross-departmental and public-private national strategy, well funded in execution.

  3. Capital Spending Review to capture both government and industry investments required to secure UK place in small-sat, comms and SSO launch operations moving forward, with specific focus on directing commercial R&D funding towards strategic goals.

  4. National Space Council fully operational providing useful and expert advice to government through a "Space Growth partnership 2.0."

  5. Each of these deliverables should ensure this final goal, which is the over-arching principle: The UK must be on a clear and planned trajectory or "roadmap" towards becoming a "modern space power" through the successful operation of a world-leading space industry, which understands and focusses outputs on our collective strengths.

So there you have it! Also in the news this week The UK based Mars Society published a paper investigating the impact that China's upcoming Mission to Mars (launching this month) will have on our industry and more recruiting than we could shake a stick at. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to catch all of the recruiting opportunities that we find particularly exciting here in the UK.

Thanks for checking in, and until next time remember that every Giant Leap is set up by thousands of small steps.

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