The United Kingdom will provide funding and assistance in constructing a new spacecraft dedicated to monitoring the effects of the climate crisis and natural disasters for scientists.
The UK Space Agency will contribute £3m to support the new pathfinder satellite, which will be part of the €80m (£70m) Atlantic Constellation project involving Spain and Portugal. Open Cosmos, located at the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire, will also provide co-funding.
The project is creating a fleet of satellites with the goal of observing the Earth. It is expected to offer valuable and timely information to aid in identifying, tracking, and mitigating natural disasters.
Andrew Griffith, a government official in charge of science, innovation, and technology, stated that the use of Earth observation will be crucial in addressing critical global issues such as climate change and disaster response. It will provide timely and necessary data while also supporting important industries in the UK such as agriculture and energy.
“Through collaboration with Open Cosmos, we aim to utilize space technology to achieve common objectives and support our partners in Spain and Portugal. This partnership also presents the potential for creating new opportunities and employment to further boost the UK economy.”
The declaration was made on the first day of the UK Space Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and four weeks after Tim Peake, the most recent British astronaut to venture into space, announced that he would return from retirement to oversee the UK’s inaugural astronaut expedition. At the age of 51, Peake last traveled to the International Space Station as a member of the European Space Agency in 2015.
Four British astronauts will embark on a mission to space, organized by the UK Space Agency in collaboration with Axiom Space, an American company that facilitates trips to the International Space Station. The undertaking is estimated to require £200 million in funds, but there will be no financial burden on British taxpayers.
Last month, Peake discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, stating that the current developments in the space industry are incredibly exciting. He believes that the UK’s involvement in this new era of exploring commercial possibilities is a remarkable achievement.
He stated that there are multiple challenges to address, including securing a financial model, selecting and training crew members, and obtaining approval from NASA for the mission. Additionally, a slot at the International Space Station must be identified if the mission is to proceed.