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£1.5 million fund launched for UK space tech

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 14:51

The UK Space Agency has announced new funding to support ambitious plans for the exploration of space.

Proposals could include ideas such as the utilisation of resources beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the use of nuclear power in space or the exploration the Moon, and Mars.

The funding call, which is part of the UK Space Agency’s Space Exploration programme, invites the space sector to bid for up to £500,000 to boost technology that will support and advance robotic and human exploration of Low Earth Orbit, the Moon, and Mars.

The South West is a hub of pioneering Space Tech research, with organisations such as Goonhilly Earth Station and Spaceport Cornwall based in the region. Those two organisations, together with Virgin Orbit, are delivering the UK’s first satellite launch Spaceport from Cornwall Airport Newquay in 2022.

Proposals for the fund could include ideas to develop: 

  • Space based nuclear power
  • Technology that supports human and robotic exploration
  • Technology to support potential future exploration missions
  • Techniques for extracting mineral resources in space

The development of space-based nuclear reactors, for example, could potentially lead to the more efficient use of technology on Earth, such as quickly deployable microreactors to restore power to disaster-hit areas.

Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, said:  "Exploration of Low Earth Orbit and our surrounding celestial neighbours delivers important breakthroughs that advance our understanding of the universe, opens up economic possibilities and make life better back on Earth.

"The UK has provided expertise and equipment to some of the most high-profile space missions of recent times. This funding will help our world-class space sector kickstart new technological successes, allowing us to explore our solar system further."

From supplying components for planetary orbiters to developing game-changing equipment to aid research in space, the UK space sector plays an important part in global space exploration, discovering insight about our solar system and its formation.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 31 August 2021. Organisations can bid for between £50,000 - £500,000. Details on how to apply for funding can be found here.

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