British space technology gains significant funding

British space technology will assist in innovating novel approaches to energy, communications, and resources, thanks to new projects from the UK Space Agency. 

Science and Innovation Minister, George Freeman, has revealed a significant £2m increase in funding for 13 novel space technology projects. 

This government announcement has arrived during British Science Week which is currently taking place (11-20 March). British Science Week intends to encourage interest in and celebrate science, engineering, technology, and maths for people of all ages. 

Funding for British space technology 

The projects are wide-ranging, including the development of a Rolls-Royce power station for space that may be able to power the generation of water, breathable oxygen, and fuels for solar exploration. 

Another of the projects intends to build novel imaging technology which is capable of enduring the elevated radiation levels on Mars. On top of this, one of the 13 projects will centre around developing a communications tool so that astronauts overcome with the delay in conversations between Mars and Earth. Engineers will also be able to establish a robot that will search for resources such as oxygen and water in Moon rocks. 

Celebrating British Science Week 

Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman commented: “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.” 

Technological innovation 

Abi Clayton, Future Programmes Director at , Rolls-Royce added: “The support of the UK Space Agency has been instrumental in enabling the continued progress of the Rolls-Royce Micro-Reactor development programme. 

“This shows the true value of public and private partnership as we bring together the space domain experience of the UK Space Agency with our own unique nuclear expertise. Together we can achieve ambitious technological firsts for the UK as we develop the power systems of the future.” 

Paving the way in space exploration 

The UK has a core role to play in space exploration and has invested a staggering £180m over five years in the European Space Agency’s global exploration programme in 2019. 

Through Airbus – a multinational aerospace corporation – the UK is leading on the Sample Fetch Rover, which will perform a significant role in the joint NASA/ESA Mars Sample Return mission, which is the first mission focused on bringing back samples of Mars to Earth. 

The UK is also backing international endeavours to return people to the Moon, with industry anticipated to build parts of the Lunar Gateway, the plan for which is a new space station that will orbit the Moon and enable us to get one step closer to human and robotic expeditions to the lunar surface. 

More information on the 13 new projects can be found on the UK Space Agency website under the title ‘New space funding paves the way for pioneering approaches to energy, communication and resources‘.

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