New space funding paves the way for pioneering approaches to energy, communication and resources
Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman announced a £2 million boost from the UK Space Agency for 13 new projects during British Science Week (11-20 March), which aims to inspire interest in and celebrate science, engineering, technology, and maths for people of all ages.
Over a third of the funding has been secured by organisations in Harwell’s Space Cluster including MDA, GMV and STFC.
The projects include developing a robot that will search for resources such as oxygen and water in Moon rocks, the creation of a 3D map for spacecraft landings on the Moon, and a feasibility study for the construction of the UK’s first dedicated facility for the preparation, characterisation and analysis of extra-terrestrial samples.
Other projects involve Rolls-Royce developing a power station for space that could power the generation of water, breathable oxygen and fuels for solar exploration, the development of imaging technology which can withstand the high radiation levels on Mars, while another will build a communications tool for astronauts to tackle the delay in conversations between Mars and Earth.
Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman said:
“As we celebrate British Science Week, I am pleased to announce this £2 million package to support 13 new projects for the UK’s brilliant scientists and engineers to help us take significant strides in space exploration and discovery.
In addition to discovery breakthroughs, these projects will also ensure that people here on Earth benefit from new technology, including micro-reactor technology with the potential to support our Net Zero commitments.
The UK has a leading role in space exploration and invested £180 million over five years in the European Space Agency’s global exploration programme in 2019.
The UK, through Airbus, is leading on the Sample Fetch Rover, which will play a key role in the joint NASA/ESA Mars Sample Return mission – the first mission aiming to bring back samples of Mars to Earth.
The UK is also supporting international efforts to return humans to the Moon, with industry expected to build parts of the Lunar Gateway – a new space station that will orbit the Moon and provide a key stepping stone for human and robotic expeditions to the lunar surface”.
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