Category Archives: Press Releases

Sunny Outlook For UK Science As New Radar Promises Improved Weather Forecasting

7 cutting-edge science projects receive a share of £4.7 million government funding

An image of clouds viewed from the Chilbolton Observatory (STFC RAL Space)

An image of clouds viewed from the Chilbolton Observatory (STFC RAL Space)

An innovative cloud profiling radar is 1 of 7 exciting new projects whose funding was announced this morning by the UK Space Agency.

The cloud radar (being developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space facility) to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting, won a share of a £4.7 million funding pot to develop highly innovative sensors that could be used to monitor climate change, improve mapping and co-ordinate disaster relief efforts from space.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

The UK is a world leader in earth observation technology, which not only allows us to better understand the planet that we live on, but also has outstanding potential for export – providing highly skilled jobs and economic growth across the UK.

This new funding is fundamental in our mission to grow the UK’s space economy and maintain our leadership in these science and technology areas, and I am keen to see the results.

From world-leading science in orbit to innovative satellite technology and services, space is a fundamental part of Britain’s future. The UK space sector is growing, worth £13.7 billion (2014 to 2015) to the economy and employing more than 38,000 people across the country.

In November 2017 businesses and organisations were invited to bid for UK Space Agency funding to match their own investments in developing new EOtechnologies that could create export opportunities for the UK and match the ambitions of the newly released EO Technology Strategy

Following a hotly contested competition run by the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) and extensive peer review, the 7 winning projects were announced today.

These will work to:

  • design a cloud profiling radar, able to provide enhanced scientific data that can improve the accuracy of weather prediction
  • develop a new optical sensor and high-resolution multispectral camera system to provide sub-meter ground resolution, with good image quality, low mass and low recurrent cost
  • implement, test and demonstrate new image analysis techniques to substantially reduce the amount of data a satellite needs to store and downlink
  • demonstrate a novel single-pixel imaging technique for a multispectral instrument suitable for nanosatellite deployment, providing high capability at low cost
  • develop the mechanisms, optics and interfaces to build a new, steerable video and still camera system in order to form the basis for a low-cost family of commercial products
  • develop large format infra-red light detectors for use in a range of future imaging and hyperspectral instruments, in a collaboration with the Australian National University
  • develop the next generation black-body calibration system, essential for delivering highly accurate data from infrared sensing space missions which measure land and sea surface temperatures

CSPL Publishes Annual Report 2017-18

The Committee has published its annual report for 2017-18, setting out its strategic vision and purpose, reporting on its work for 2017-18, and outlining its watching brief for 2018-19

Parliament Street

Parliament Street

The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life today published its annual report for 2017 – 18. The report details the reviews and reports conducted this year, sets out the Committee’s ongoing programme of work and the standards issues on which it intends to maintain a watching brief in 2018-19.

Lord Bew, Chair of the Committee, who completes his five-year term on 31 August, said:

This year, we have considered a range of important, topical issues, from MPs’ outside interests to the continuing importance of ethical standards for those private companies providing public services – all the more timely given the collapse of Carillion early in 2018. We are now six months into a review of local government ethical standards. Amongst all this, we have contributed to consultations by others including on pre-appointment scrutiny of public appointments, local public accounts committees and the draft Behaviour Code for Parliament and have worked with others to highlight and promote a wide range of standards issues.

Perhaps most notably this year, we looked at the growing problem of intimidation in public life. The Committee felt that we were at a turning point in our political culture and that an urgent and concerted response was required. We welcomed the Government’s positive response to our report, which accepted almost all of our recommendations, in March this year.

There is always a risk that concerns relating to standards remain under the radar for a long period, and later emerge to public prominence, as is the case with the allegations of bullying and harassment at Westminster. It is critical that Parliament has fair and timely processes in which those who have made complaints, and those who are the subject of complaints, as well as the public, can have trust. We await the outcome of the various reviews commissioned by Parliament to address these serious issues.

To that end, in 2018/19, the Committee intends to maintain a close watching brief on culture and behaviour in Westminster, as well as other standards issues, including lobbying, and the operation of the Business Appointment Rules.

Since its creation in 1994, the Committee has made recommendations for reform to promote and uphold high standards of conduct across public life. Lord Nolan’s Seven Principles have been the widely accepted cornerstone of ethical standards for people working across all areas of public life for almost 25 years and are now fundamental for those in the private sector who are providing services funded by the taxpayer too.

The last five years have convinced me that the Seven Principles remain as relevant today as they were a quarter of a century ago. They may have their detractors – it is true that levels of public trust do not always respond precisely to high standards, and that transparency in itself, whilst still essential, is perhaps not the cure-all originally envisaged. Notwithstanding this, the Nolan Principles clearly articulate the public’s expectations of those that serve them and must be promoted, understood and reinforced across public life.

Multi-Million Pound Fund To Help Tackle The Disability Employment Gap Launched

The fund is the latest in a range of government measures that aims to see 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027

Department for Works & Pensions

Department for Works & Pensions

A £4.2 million challenge fund to support people with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions to stay in work has been launched by the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, and the Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price.

The fund is the latest in a range of government measures that are part of a 10-year strategy which aims to see 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027.

The challenge fund, run by Rocket Science on behalf of the government, is aimed at testing new approaches to help people experiencing mental ill health or musculoskeletal issues to remain in employment.

They might be at risk of losing employment because of the effects of their condition, or may already be temporarily off work through ill health.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton, said:

We know there is a gap between disabled people who want to work and those who have the opportunity to do so.

With 78% of people acquiring their disability or health condition during their adult life, it’s crucial that we support disabled people who want to work to stay in or return to employment.

The joint initiative between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care will fund projects that help people to stay in work by:

  • increasing their ability to self-manage their conditions
  • helping people access advice and support about what sort of work they might be capable of doing

Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price, said:

For too long if you had a disability or serious mental health issue the world of work was off limits, potentially affecting the lives of millions of people across the country.

This fund will help people overcome the barriers that so many still face when trying to get into and progress in the workplace.

Other areas to be tested will include new approaches to help employers and employees develop workplace solutions, and developing ways of working that facilitate greater participation of those with mental health or musculoskeletal conditions.

Applications are welcome from organisations in any sector, including employers, charities, social enterprises, local authorities, health bodies and others, with applications from smaller organisations particularly welcome.

Lockheed Martin And Orbex To Launch UK Into New Space Age

Lockheed Martin and Orbex are investing in space launch operations and bringing innovative new technology to Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced today (Monday 16 July) during the Farnborough International Airshow

Artist's impression of vertical launch from UK spaceport. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Artist’s impression of vertical launch from UK spaceport. Credit: Lockheed Martin

  • Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland and develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire with support from two UK Space Agency grants totalling £23.5 million
  • A further £5.5 million will go to British company Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, as part of Government’s modern Industrial Strategy
  • This builds on awards of £2.5m to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland and a £2m development fund for horizontal spaceports such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia
  • Government support for launch is the first step towards a potential Space Sector Deal and the development of a national space programme

Under the plans, global space leader Lockheed Martin and innovative spaceflight company Orbex will launch rockets into space from the north coast of Scotland.

The grants from the UK Space Agency consist of:

  • Two separate grants worth a combined £23.5 million to Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations at Sutherland using proven technology and to develop an innovative new system in Reading for deploying small satellites. Known as an orbital manoeuvring vehicle, this will be the upper stage of Lockheed Martin’s rocket and will deploy up to six small satellites to separate orbits.
  • £5.5 million to UK-based Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, with the support of British manufacturing operations and supply chains. Their orbital launch vehicle, called Prime, will deliver small satellites into Earth’s orbit, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to hydrocarbon fuels.

The companies will work together with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which has been awarded £2.5 million to develop a vertical launch site in Sutherland.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our Industrial Strategy. The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”

Horizontal launch sites have significant potential in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain. Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will be boosted by a new £2m fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said:

“The UK’s space sector is thriving and satellite benefits our lives every day, from banking to transport, and agriculture to entertainment.

“Our Space Industry Act will allow the UK to tap into and develop new commercial space opportunities, with the potential for hundreds of new regional jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country.

“Today’s announcement is not only exciting for Sutherland, but with industry expertise up and down the country it will drive growth and further regional opportunities in England, Scotland and Wales.”

Britain’s Space Sector has set out ambitious plans to build on its global leadership in satellites and applications using space data to create a hub in the UK for new commercial space services, as set out in the Prosperity from Space report published in May.

The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy identified spaceports as a key economic opportunity and a priority for the UK’s space strategy. The UK is an attractive destination for space businesses and the north of Scotland is well-placed to reach in-demand satellite orbits.

Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK Country Executive for Space, said:

“The UK Space Agency’s strategic vision for a world-class launch market will position the nation for a very bright future in space. Lockheed Martin will apply its 50 years of experience in small satellite engineering, launch services and ground operations, as well as a network of UK-based and international teammates, to deliver new technologies, new capabilities and new economic opportunities.”

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said:

“We’re delighted to have been selected after a highly competitive and detailed process. Orbex is one of the very few private spaceflight companies with credible practical experience in the development of launch vehicles and rocket engines. With the support of this grant from the UK Space Agency, we will soon be launching small satellites into orbit from British soil and helping to transform the UK into an important hub for commercial space launch operations.”

Following its call for grant proposals in Spring 2017, the UK Space Agency assessed 26 proposals to determine what would deliver the best value for money and strategic opportunity for the growth of the UK space sector.

A number of sites across the UK are developing their spaceport plans and engaging with regulators, demonstrating the scale of the industry’s ambition and confidence in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain. Launches will be regulated under the Space Industry Act 2018.

The UK and US will also soon begin formal negotiations towards a Technology Safeguards Agreement, which will establish the legal and technical safeguards that can support U.S. space launch vehicles to operate from UK launch sites. Attracting US operators to the UK will enhance our space capabilities and boost the whole market.

One Giant Leap: Vertical Launch Spaceport To Bring UK Into New Space Age

The UK is set to build on its world leading expertise in aerospace with the development of vertical and horizontal spaceports

Artist's impression of a UK spaceport. Credit: Perfect Circle PV

Artist’s impression of a UK spaceport. Credit: Perfect Circle PV

  • Industrial Strategy funding awarded to proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland
  • Horizontal launch sites such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia to be boosted by new £2 million development fund
  • Commercial vertical and horizontal launch demand is worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and will support further growth of Britain’s space sector
  • Additional grants to be announced at next week’s Farnborough International Airshow will see leading commercial spaceflight operators launching from Sutherland

The UK Space Agency has selected the first vertical launch site in Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland and is making available a new £2 million fund to boost horizontal spaceport development across Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce today (Monday 16 July).

Scotland is the best place in the UK to reach in-demand satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets. Initial funding of £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical launch site in Sutherland which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to pave the way for a world-leading spaceflight market.

This will grow the UK space economy through regular, reliable and responsible access to space.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our Industrial Strategy.The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”

Horizontal launch sites have significant potential in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain. Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will be boosted by a new £2m fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said:

“The space sector is an important player in the UK’s economy and our recent Space Industry Act has unlocked the potential for hundreds of new jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country.

“Today’s announcement is exciting for places like Newquay in Cornwall too, paving the way for further potential space ports in the future.”

The £50 million UK Spaceflight Programme is also considering leading proposals for horizontal spaceplane operations from across Britain, submitted as part of its call on low cost access to space.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:

“The UK Government is driving the commercial space age and Scotland is leading the way. We are investing £2.5 million in a vertical launch site in Sutherland which will create hundreds of new jobs. And we will invest a further £2 million in horizontal launch sites – Prestwick is in the running for that and I wish them well.

“Scotland is uniquely positioned to pilot the UK’s commercial space sector and the UK Government recognises this pot.”

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

“The UK Government has an exciting ambition to take the UK into the commercial space age by enabling small satellite launch and spaceflight from UK spaceports. Wales now has an exciting window of opportunity to take a leading role in shaping that future.

“We have the right geography and a skilled engineering base in aerospace, electronics and the software industries, standing ready to diversify and to flourish in the fast-developing space market. The opportunities are vast – for Britain’s strategic capabilities and for Wales in terms of job creation, cross border synergies through the Northern Powerhouse, linking to our strong academic institutions and the potential economic impact. We must now stand ready to grasp them.”

The UK has a thriving space sector with significant capability in manufacturing satellites and using the information they collect to drive innovation in other sectors ranging from healthcare to finance.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

“This spaceport grant will help to kick-start an exciting new era for the UK space industry, and this is only the beginning of our LaunchUK campaign. We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the UK, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here.”

A number of sites across the UK are developing their spaceport plans and engaging with regulators, demonstrating the scale of the industry’s ambition and confidence in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain.

Low cost access to space is important for the UK’s thriving space sector which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe.

Will Whitehorn, Non-Executive Chairman of Clyde Space said:

“From designing and building the very first satellite in Scotland, Clyde Space has grown and become a front runner in small-satellite manufacturing. Having a spaceport located in Scotland will bring about a whole host of commercial advantages and not only to our operations in Glasgow, but to the entire space sector in the whole of the UK.”

Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global, said:

“A spaceport in Scotland and the UK is fantastic news! Launch continues to be the most unpredictable part of the overall supply chain, with delays, often for months and sometimes years, being the norm. In Spire, Scotland already sports Europe’s most advanced and prolific satellite manufacturing capability, and with a space port right next door, enabling clockwork like launches, we can finally get our space sector supply chain to be truly integrated!”

The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain also put the UK in a strong position to further develop horizontal launch sites. The Government’s decision to make available a £2 million strategic development fund, subject to business case, will help accelerate this early-stage market further.

Small-satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from the UK will support organisations across the country to remain at the forefront of commercial space services. It will drive new highly skilled jobs and boost local economies – not only in the communities around spaceport sites, but in the UK’s space sector as a whole.

Charlotte Wright, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said:

“The decision to support the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole. The international space sector is growing and we want to ensure the region is ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated from this fantastic opportunity.”

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