Hood

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Lots of strategy docs coming out of Whitehall at he moment; shipbuilding, space, defence industries etc., a lot of word salads and management speak and nice graphs and charts, even whimsical touches like "Countdown Phase, Ignition Phase, Thrust Phase and Orbit Phase".
What does it all boil down to? Growing national space capability, providing some seed corn funding, getting a Space Command to do spacey things and until all that is ready hoping some foreign investors and companies are going to want to launch stuff from the UK.
Interesting that the ESA gets a big mention (even the Five Eyes is mentioned by name!), plus the UK-Australia Space Bridge, which implies the direction of travel pre-AUKUS.

There is no doubt an industry to grow, whether it will lead Britain to become an S&T superpower is another matter, plenty of nations have been messing about in space since the 1960s but haven't attained holy grail levels of technological prowess.
 

Flyaway

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Cross-posting:

View: https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1448678488970457088

Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Janice Starzyk of Virgin Orbit says the first LauncherOne mission from Spaceport Cornwall in the UK is scheduled for June 2022. It’s tied to the Queen’s jubilee, so desire to keep to that schedule.
UK space race heats up as Skyrora sets sights on 2022 launch
12 Oct 2021

The UK space race has heated up today (12 October) after rocket company Skyrora agreed a decade-long deal for multiple launches from the Shetland Island of Unst – including one next year.
The announcement sets up a race between the Edinburgh-headquartered firm and Orbex, another Scottish rocket company aiming for its first launch next year. Whichever project wins will be the first to launch a rocket from UK soil.
“We have made no secret of our ambition to be the first company to launch from UK soil, so it's really exciting to agree to this multi-launch deal with [spaceport] SaxaVord,” said Skyrora founder and CEO Volodymyr Levykin.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of space innovation in the UK, deploying our assets and helping to unlock exciting opportunities as part of the new space economy. The UK is a world leader in space technology, and this latest move brings us another crucial step closer to offering a significant space service from our own soil.”
The XL rocket launch programme from Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands, will gradually speed up throughout the decade. By 2030, Skyrora aims to launch 16 rockets a year.
Speaking to Professional Engineering earlier this year, Orbex CEO Chris Larmour said the firm already had six launch contracts, with the first planned for late 2022. Launches of the Prime ‘micro-launcher’ from Sutherland spaceport in the Highlands will ramp up “gradually”, he said – one or two in the first couple of years, reaching full ‘cadence’ by 2024 or 2025.
The two companies are taking some non-conventional approaches to space flight. Orbex will 3D print its engines, for example, while Skyrora hopes its versatile upper stage will enable multi-purpose launches.
According to a study by Scottish Enterprise last year, income from Scotland's space sector could reach over £2bn by 2030. Data solutions to help combat climate change could double that. The SaxaVord spaceport is expected to create 140 jobs locally, with an additional 70 jobs across Shetland, while Skyrora aims to create over 170 jobs by 2030.
Skyrora has been testing increasingly large rockets with short high-altitude launches since 2018. Last year, it conducted the first rocket test on UK soil in 50 years, as well as launching its Skylark Micro from Iceland.
The three-stage Skyrora XL rocket stands over 22m, and can carry up to 315kg to orbit. Last year, the firm completed trials of its third stage, including its orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). Once in orbit, the OTV will be able to refire its engines about 15 times to complete extra tasks – acting as a ‘space tug’, carrying out maintenance, or de-orbiting defunct satellites.
For the proposed 2022 launch, Skyrora plans to fuel the XL with sustainable rocket fuel alternative Ecosene. Made from waste plastic such as polystyrene, the fuel could prevent more than 3,000 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic going to landfill by 2030, just through use on Skyrora flights.
 

Grey Havoc

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British satellite giant Inmarsat sold for £5.4bn as hedge funds double money - live updates
British satellite firm Inmarsat has agreed a $7.3bn (£5.4bn) takeover deal by US rival Viasat, marking the first wave of consolidation in the rapidly-growing satellite sector.

California-based Viasat has agreed to acquire Inmarsat, which provides phone and data services worldwide through its network of satellites, in a transaction consisting of $850m in cash, Viasat shares valued at roughly $3.1bn and the assumption of $3.4bn of net debt.

The sale represents a rapid profit for Inmarsat's private equity owners – including Warburg Pincus and Apax Partners – who snapped up the company for $3.4bn in 2019.

The deal is likely to face regulatory scrutiny around the globe amid growing competition between satellite rivals, as well as heightened concerns over the sale of key British assets to foreign buyers.
 

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Ministers call for national security review of Inmarsat takeover​

Ministers have been urged to call for a national security review of the £5.5bn takeover of British satellite company Inmarsat.
James Titcomb reports:
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng saying that Inmarsat’s sale to America’s Viasat could “diminish the UK’s sovereign capabilities”.
He argued Mr Kwarteng should assess the deal under incoming national security legislation due to come into force in January.
Mr Kwarteng responded saying the Government was monitoring the deal and will intervene if it considers it appropriate.
Viasat announced the $7.3bn (£5.5bn) takeover of Inmarsat from its current private equity owners last month. Viasat provides in-flight Wi-Fi to domestic US flights, while Inmarsat covers much of Europe and the Atlantic. The deal will create a satellite internet powerhouse better suited to taking on newcomers such as Elon Musk’s Starlink.
However, Inmarsat also provides critical services to the Ministry of Defence, and the merger has raised potential competition issues.
Read James' full story here
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/busines...t-rates-inflation-banks/#update-20211220-1527
 

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The report includes a focus on current BAE space missions, including the acquisition of the firm ‘In-Space Missions’ a UK company that designs, builds, and operates satellites and satellite systems. BAE specifically targeted the fact that it allows the company “to create a sovereign UK space offer”, in line with the request included in the UK Government’s 2021 integrated defence review.

BAE also mentions they are developing “radio technology to provide global satellite navigation systems and command and control services from low earth orbit satellites or even high-altitude aircraft.”
 

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The report includes a focus on current BAE space missions, including the acquisition of the firm ‘In-Space Missions’ a UK company that designs, builds, and operates satellites and satellite systems. BAE specifically targeted the fact that it allows the company “to create a sovereign UK space offer”, in line with the request included in the UK Government’s 2021 integrated defence review.

BAE also mentions they are developing “radio technology to provide global satellite navigation systems and command and control services from low earth orbit satellites or even high-altitude aircraft.”
 

Flyaway

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Looks doubtful for any UK launch in 2022 and more likely to be 2023 by the sounds of it.

Plans to host the first orbital launches from the United Kingdom this year are moving ahead despite uncertainty about when regulators will grant licenses for those launches.

Virgin Orbit intends to conduct two launches of its LauncherOne air-launch system this year in flights this summer from Cornwall Airport Newquay, also known as Spaceport Cornwall in southwestern England.

“The Cornwall launches are targeted around the middle of the year, summertime,” said Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, said in a call with reporters Jan. 11, two days before its “Above the Clouds” launch from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Tony Gingiss, chief operating officer of Virgin Orbit, said in the call that the first Cornwall launch would be two flights after Above the Clouds.

Tim Johnson, director of strategy and policy for the CAA, repeatedly declined to say if his agency expected the first U.K. launch to take place in 2022. He said four applications had been formally submitted with 14 others in a “pre-application” review.

“You are set up. You’ve had these applications. Do you expect a launch in 2022?” asked the committee’s chair, Greg Clark.

“We’re open for business. We’re processing applications. The key driver for the timetable will be the quality of the applications, the evidence presented,” Johnson responded.

In a back-and-forth with Clark, Johnson repeatedly declined to say if a first U.K. launch would take place in 2022, to the growing frustration of committee members. “I’m a bit disappointed that we haven’t been able to get a clear answer from you on the question that Greg just posed about whether you do expect a launch by the end of the year,” said another committee member, Dehenna Davison. “Can you give us a yes or no?”

Johnson again declined. “The CAA understands the importance of timeliness in this regard and we’re doing absolutely everything we can to achieve that.”

Later in the hearing, though, Colin Macleod, head of space regulation at the CAA, said he expected it to take 6 to 12 months to issue a license for a spaceport, and 9 to 18 months for a launch license. “The biggest factors in that timescale are how well the applicants can explain their safety to us,” he said. “They are the experts, they know their technology, and the whole point of our approach is to enable innovative space activity to take place, so they are the biggest determinants in how quickly we can move.”

 

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Flyaway

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The first UK mainland satellite launch was announced yesterday.

The launch from Spaceport Cornwall will be the first commercial rocket to lift off from the U.K.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense will launch a joint mission this summer on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket, U.K. defense procurement minister Jeremy Quin announced May 10.

The launch from Spaceport Cornwall — located at Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England — will be the first commercial rocket to lift off from the U.K. and from Western Europe. Virgin Orbit will fly nine payloads to orbit using the LauncherOne small launch platform deployed from a modified Boeing 747 aircraft.

“It’s an honor to join the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense in announcing this historic enterprise,” NRO Director Chris Scolese said in a statement.
 

Flyaway

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Related Orbex press release. It’s currently a test article on the pad.

 

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First UK satellite launch in summer 2022
As part of a three-year mission two satellites will operate close to Earth experimenting and test imaging and interoperability.

From:
Ministry of Defence, UK Space Agency, and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Published
10 May 2022

The first satellite launch from the UK will take place this summer as Prometheus-2 takes off from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, the Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin has announced today.

Built by In-Space Missions Ltd, based in Hampshire, and designed with Airbus Defence and Space, Prometheus-2 is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Two shoebox-sized satellites, ‘Cubesats’, will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our allies.

This space mission will allow MOD to better understand how the UK and its international partners can work together to create a more capable and flexible system at a lower cost than could be achieved alone. The technology on board the satellites will enable MOD to identify new techniques and algorithms for operating satellites and data processing.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said:
Space technology is crucial for developing Defence capabilities and the launch of Prometheus-2 represents another important step forward for our homegrown space programme.

This collaboration with In-Space Missions and Airbus paves the way for the UK to become a more resilient, more robust and more significant global space entity.

Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, Ian Annett, said:
We are putting the UK at the forefront of small satellite launch, providing world-leading capability for commercial customers and governments within a global market, opening new opportunities and inspiring the current and next generation of British space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

These satellites showcase the UK’s strengths in designing and building satellites. Being able to launch from the UK and across Europe for the first time will boost our satellite industry further, create high skilled jobs across the country and deliver a key ambition of the National Space Strategy.

NRO Director Dr. Chris Scolose said:
We are thrilled to be part of another trailblazing endeavour with the first-ever launch of a commercial rocket from Western Europe.

It’s an honour to join the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence in announcing this historic enterprise. We look forward to this remarkable achievement as the foundation of an even stronger collaboration between our nations.

The Cubesats will each have separate equipment on-board to test novel concepts as a pathfinder in support of the Minerva constellation for future space-based intelligence and surveillance.

Director Space at MOD, Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth said:
This is a great example of the power of international collaboration – a key tenet of our Defence Space Strategy. Prometheus 2 will deliver immense value to the UK MOD’s future space programme and, thanks to our partners in the National Reconnaissance Office, this highly-capable satellite will launch from UK soil this summer.

I am hugely proud of what we have achieved together and this is just the beginning.

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Paul Hollinshead said:
The Prometheus-2 mission, with the first ever directly owned Dstl satellites, exemplifies the decades-long collaborative relationship with our international allies, and shows how we can best partner with industry. It will achieve critical R&D outcomes and help increase our pool of qualified space personnel to help grow the UK’s capability to deliver space systems in the future.

The Cubesats will be carried on Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket which takes off horizontally from a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl. They will operate in low Earth Orbit, around 550km above the Earth and 50-100km apart at 17,000mph.

Cubesat 1 – includes a hyperspectral imager, a laser detector and a GPS receiver. The hyperspectral imager will capture multiple slivers of pictures over different wavelengths of light for higher definition images. The GPS receiver confirms the precise time and position of the satellite over the area of the Earth to be photographed.

Cubesat 2 – includes two optical imaging cameras, a laser range finder, and a GPS receiver. One camera will be fitted with a wide-angle lens for a 180-degree view of Earth’s surface with the second camera observing the other Cubesat 1 to support space situational awareness and enables us to understand what else orbits the Earth.

These satellites will support MOD’s science and technology activities both in orbit and on the ground, through continued development of Dstl’s Hermes ground-station based in Portsmouth, and enabling improved coordination and collaboration with our international partners.
 

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First UK satellite launch in summer 2022
As part of a three-year mission two satellites will operate close to Earth experimenting and test imaging and interoperability.

From:
Ministry of Defence, UK Space Agency, and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Published
10 May 2022

The first satellite launch from the UK will take place this summer as Prometheus-2 takes off from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, the Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin has announced today.

Built by In-Space Missions Ltd, based in Hampshire, and designed with Airbus Defence and Space, Prometheus-2 is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Two shoebox-sized satellites, ‘Cubesats’, will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our allies.

This space mission will allow MOD to better understand how the UK and its international partners can work together to create a more capable and flexible system at a lower cost than could be achieved alone. The technology on board the satellites will enable MOD to identify new techniques and algorithms for operating satellites and data processing.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said:
Space technology is crucial for developing Defence capabilities and the launch of Prometheus-2 represents another important step forward for our homegrown space programme.

This collaboration with In-Space Missions and Airbus paves the way for the UK to become a more resilient, more robust and more significant global space entity.

Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, Ian Annett, said:
We are putting the UK at the forefront of small satellite launch, providing world-leading capability for commercial customers and governments within a global market, opening new opportunities and inspiring the current and next generation of British space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

These satellites showcase the UK’s strengths in designing and building satellites. Being able to launch from the UK and across Europe for the first time will boost our satellite industry further, create high skilled jobs across the country and deliver a key ambition of the National Space Strategy.

NRO Director Dr. Chris Scolose said:
We are thrilled to be part of another trailblazing endeavour with the first-ever launch of a commercial rocket from Western Europe.

It’s an honour to join the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence in announcing this historic enterprise. We look forward to this remarkable achievement as the foundation of an even stronger collaboration between our nations.

The Cubesats will each have separate equipment on-board to test novel concepts as a pathfinder in support of the Minerva constellation for future space-based intelligence and surveillance.

Director Space at MOD, Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth said:
This is a great example of the power of international collaboration – a key tenet of our Defence Space Strategy. Prometheus 2 will deliver immense value to the UK MOD’s future space programme and, thanks to our partners in the National Reconnaissance Office, this highly-capable satellite will launch from UK soil this summer.

I am hugely proud of what we have achieved together and this is just the beginning.

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Paul Hollinshead said:
The Prometheus-2 mission, with the first ever directly owned Dstl satellites, exemplifies the decades-long collaborative relationship with our international allies, and shows how we can best partner with industry. It will achieve critical R&D outcomes and help increase our pool of qualified space personnel to help grow the UK’s capability to deliver space systems in the future.

The Cubesats will be carried on Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket which takes off horizontally from a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl. They will operate in low Earth Orbit, around 550km above the Earth and 50-100km apart at 17,000mph.

Cubesat 1 – includes a hyperspectral imager, a laser detector and a GPS receiver. The hyperspectral imager will capture multiple slivers of pictures over different wavelengths of light for higher definition images. The GPS receiver confirms the precise time and position of the satellite over the area of the Earth to be photographed.

Cubesat 2 – includes two optical imaging cameras, a laser range finder, and a GPS receiver. One camera will be fitted with a wide-angle lens for a 180-degree view of Earth’s surface with the second camera observing the other Cubesat 1 to support space situational awareness and enables us to understand what else orbits the Earth.

These satellites will support MOD’s science and technology activities both in orbit and on the ground, through continued development of Dstl’s Hermes ground-station based in Portsmouth, and enabling improved coordination and collaboration with our international partners.

Excellent news, I for one will be looking forward to this launch. This has been a long time coming.
 

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