UK Space Agency announces recipients of £20m in funds

The UK Space Agency has unveiled the first beneficiaries of its £20 million International Bilateral Fund.

The initiative is aimed at fostering collaborations between UK organisations and their counterparts from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Singapore, South Africa, and other countries to advance space research and technology.

The International Bilateral Fund represents the UK Space Agency’s maiden venture into enhancing international partnerships to fulfil the UK’s ambitions in space. While some initiatives will centre on bolstering ties to create future economic prospects for the UK, others will zero in on scientific missions and technologies with lucrative commercial possibilities.

The projects in this venture span a range of areas, from employing superconductors in spacecraft control to satellite launch mechanisms and space traffic management.

“Working with other space agencies and organisations across the globe through our International Bilateral Fund allows us to draw on skills that enhance our homegrown expertise and capabilities, drive up investment in the UK, and support world-class science and discovery,” commented Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency. He emphasised the significance of such collaborations in propelling space innovation, unlocking commercial benefits, and furthering global advancements in the sector.

Among the projects, UK-based Vertical Future will collaborate with Axiom Space, Saber Astronautics, Cambridge University, and the University of Adelaide. Their focus will be on designing a cutting-edge autonomous environment for plant growth, which is crucial for space expeditions.

In addition, satellite manufacturer In-Space Missions will partner with regional Asia-Pacific Government collaboration to initiate Faraday Dragon. This programme is dedicated to simplifying the export process of innovative space technologies and offering easier access to space via rideshare missions.

Lizzie Kerr, Director of UKspace stated:

“UKspace welcomes the announcement of the first projects funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund. International collaboration underpins the success of the UK’s space sector – and this new programme is an important new route to unlock new international partnerships, benefitting companies overseas and here in the UK.”

The announced collaborations, each obtaining up to £75,000 from an initial £2.1 million pot, span various fields and involve international partners from all over the globe. Some noteworthy collaborations include:

  • University of Glasgow with the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth Consortium on a novel lunar regolith sampling technique.
  • Rolls-Royce partnering with BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC (USA) on space nuclear technology development.
  • Satellite Applications Catapult and Obruta Space Solutions Corp (Canada) working on a low-Earth orbit regulatory and technology testbed.
  • Seraphim Space Camp Accelerator Ltd joining forces with multiple Singapore-based entities on their expansion into Asia.
  • In-Space Missions collaborating with several Asia-Pacific entities on the Faraday Dragon project, a technology and business accelerator programme.

And numerous other collaborations with entities from the USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, Singapore, UAE, Bahrain, and more, focussing on various aspects of space research, development, and technology.

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