The UK has announced its plan to join the Atlantic Constellation project, alongside Portugal and Spain, by funding and building a new satellite aimed at monitoring and combating climate change. The Atlantic Constellation initiative focuses on developing a constellation of small satellites for Earth, ocean, and climate monitoring. Its mission is to provide data that can support early detection of climate change indicators, aid in disaster relief, improve agricultural productivity, and enhance energy use.
Open Cosmos, a space tech startup, will construct the UK satellite, which will serve as a pathfinder craft. It will be designed using the same blueprint as three of Portugal’s satellites, making it part of the initial batch for the constellation. Open Cosmos will co-fund the satellite’s development, with an additional £3 million from the UK Space Agency.
The UK satellite is expected to increase the revisit time frequency in its orbital plane by 33%. This capability will allow it to observe and gather valuable and regularly updated data that can aid in critical applications such as detecting, monitoring, and mitigating natural disasters.
Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Andrew Griffith, expressed the importance of Earth observation in addressing global challenges, such as climate change and disaster relief. He emphasized that the data obtained through satellite monitoring is crucial for supporting industries like agriculture and energy. By collaborating with Open Cosmos and the Atlantic partners, Spain and Portugal, the UK aims to leverage space technology to achieve shared goals, while also generating new skills, opportunities, and jobs to foster economic growth.
Open Cosmos is already operating one satellite in orbit, named Menut, which monitors deforestation, flooding, wildfire impact, and coastal erosion. The startup plans to launch an additional five satellites by March and recently secured €50 million in funding during its latest round in September.