World Space Week: UK satellites lead the way

Today marks the start of World Space Week, a UN celebration of all things space and its impact on our daily lives. This year the theme of the week is…

Today marks the start of World Space Week, a UN celebration of all things space and its impact on our daily lives. This year the theme of the week is ‘How satellites improve life’, which is appropriate for the UK, given how we as a nation are world leaders in small satellites.

Satellites and the services they provide us affect our day-to-day lives more than you could ever imagine. From satellite communications for air traffic control, monitoring crops and harvest to secure food supplies to more conventional satellite uses like making sure your phone and satnav work.

Satellite manufacturers like Surrey Satellites are world leaders in producing small satellites which can carry a wide array of payloads for differing missions. Satellites like their NovaSAR-1 which was launched in 2018 will help monitor suspicious shipping activity and also take high-resolution images of the earth which can be used in many different ways.

In the UK, we have a thriving satellites industry and the wider community including world leaders such as Airbus, Inmarsat and Thales Alenia Space and an ever-growing SME space community, particularly in Scotland.

UK satellite innovators

The UK has been making strides in satellite technologies with academia and global partners working in collaboration to develop the next generation of Nanosatellites, the size of a microwave and innovative solutions to clean up space junk. Airbus and Surrey Satellite Technology have been working as part of a consortium to help clean up junk orbiting the earth, to make it safer for future satellites to be launched into orbit. The spacecraft features three innovative Airbus technologies to perform active debris removal: a net and a harpoon to capture space junk which was developed at Airbus’ Stevenage facility. The harpoon was successfully tested last year as part of ongoing trials.

The future of the UK satellite industry

The coming years are an exciting time for the UK space industry with plans for UK launch in full swing, we will see UK manufactured satellites and payloads launched from UK soil for the first time.

With the announcement of the National Space Council to oversee the UK’s first National Space Strategy the future for the UK space industry is looking incredibly exciting and will help the sector to continue to grow.

What to look out for during World Space Week

The World Space Week website has links a whole host of virtual events taking across throughout this week to celebrate the event and you can keep up with World Space Week on Twitter though the hashtag #WSW2020.

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