The UK Space Agency will provide £3m to fund and build a new spacecraft aimed at helping scientists monitor the climate crisis and natural disasters. This initiative is part of the €80m (£70m) Atlantic Constellation project, which includes Spain, Portugal, and Open Cosmos, a company based in Oxfordshire.
The project involves the development of a group of satellites that will monitor the Earth’s environment. The aim is to gather valuable and regularly updated data that will aid in the detection, monitoring, and reduction of natural disasters. Andrew Griffith, a minister in the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, emphasized the importance of earth observation in tackling global challenges such as climate change and disaster relief. He also highlighted the potential benefits for key UK industries like agriculture and energy.
This announcement coincides with the opening day of the UK Space Conference held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Just four weeks prior, Tim Peake, the last British astronaut to go into space, announced his return from retirement to lead the UK’s first astronaut mission. The mission, in collaboration with Axiom Space, an American company organizing visits to the International Space Station, will involve four British astronauts. The project is estimated to cost £200m, with no contribution from the British taxpayer.
Peake expressed his excitement about the developments in the space sector and commended the UK’s involvement in exploring commercial opportunities. However, he acknowledged the hurdles that need to be overcome, including securing the financial model, crew selection and training, and receiving approval and a slot from Nasa for the mission to the International Space Station.
Overall, the funding of the new spacecraft and the upcoming astronaut mission signify the UK’s commitment to utilizing space technology for scientific research and economic growth, while addressing global challenges such as climate change and disaster management.