ESA CM22 sees UK success
The UK Government has secured £1.84 Billion of investment for the UK space sector at the latest meeting of the ESA Council of Ministers in Paris.
ESA has also committed to the Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover to be launched in 2028. This will provide significant boost to the UK manufacturing sector, which has played a leading role in the rover’s development.
The United Kingdom takes leadership roles
The UK has committed £315 million in Earth observation and climate programmes, utilising funds pledged two years ago for the delayed Copernicus programme and will take a leading role in projects combatting climate change.
£111 million has been secured to improve space safety and security. The UK will lead on the Vigil space weather mission, which will deploy a probe to point L5 in deep space to monitor space weather, and on satellite climate measurement standards, through funding for the TRUTHS mission.
The UK will also use this funding to lead in space sustainability management, satellite maintenance and satellite retrieval. A recent white paper by the Paris Peace Forum confirmed the UK had some of the most comprehensive regulations promoting space sustainability in Europe, giving the UK a secure position to take the lead in this sector.
It's not just in sustainability where Britain is taking a leading role. More than £206 million has been secured for programmes related to telecommunications. This money will help continue the successes of the Harwell European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications’ work into improving 5G efficiency and to explore 6G connectivity, alongside aiding the deployment of Low Earth Orbit satellite constellations. Part of the £217 million of investment towards supporting the global exploration programme will include commercial lunar communications systems, supporting the Artemis Moon programme.
Benefits for the UK space sector
George Freeman MP, the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, said of the meeting’s outcomes that:
“These new investments will support the ongoing growth of the UK space and commercial satellite sector - creating new jobs around the UK from Cornwall to the North of Scotland - and securing UK leadership in space sustainability. They will put our scientists and engineers at the forefront of some of the world’s most important missions and programmes which drive transformational innovation.”
The £315 million committed to Earth observation will also provide a welcome relief for an unstable sector, which has been hit by the two year delay of the Copernicus programme.
The next generation of UK Astronauts
CM22 also saw three Astronauts from the United Kingdom selected as ESA Astronauts. John McFall became the first openly disabled person to be selected for Astronaut training in history, as part of an ESA initiative. Rosemary Coogan joined the ESA’s Astronaut class to become the third Astronaut from the UK, and Meganne Christian became a member of the ESA Astronaut Reserve.