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Satnews Daily
March 7th, 2019

Four Organizations Awarded Grants for Commercial Spaceport Range Control Services by the UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency has confirmed that four organizations have been awarded more than £350,000 in grant funding for the development of commercial range control services at multiple spaceport sites across the country.

The successful applicants Telespazio VEGA UK Ltd., Deimos Space UK Ltd., Heliaq UK Ltd. and Inmarsat Global Ltd. will use the funding to develop a business plan and initial concept of operations to offer range services from the UK on a commercial basis.

The 2018 Space Industry Act enables companies to use cutting edge technology while also safeguarding public safety. Range control services are vital to this and include activities such as tracking rockets and spaceplanes in flight, as well as notifying users of airspace when launches are taking place. Organizations submitted grant applications to undertake studies into range control services and the successful companies were awarded grants on their ability to meet robust selection criteria.

The UK Space Agency has also published a report from the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), outlining a potential method of calculating risk in the area around the launch site and spaceflight path to ensure public safety. HSL provides health and safety expert advice to government and industry in the UK and internationally.

Telespazio VEGA UK Ltd, together with its partner organisations QinetiQ Ltd., GTD sistemas de información SAU and Commercial Space Technologies Ltd. have been awarded £165,166 to develop a Commercial Range Control Service to support multiple UK Launch Sites, Launch Systems and Service Operators, with the potential to also address the global launch export market.

Photo of the Sutherland, Scotland, launch site.

Deimos Space UK Ltd., together with its partners Orbital Express Launch Ltd., UK Launch Services Ltd., Qinetiq Ltd., Helios Ltd. and Heliaq Ltd. have been awarded £131,901 of funding to study the provision of a low-cost commercial range to cover vertical spaceflight from the A’Mhoine spaceport in Sutherland.

Heliaq UK Ltd., together with its partners Spaceport Cornwall, UK Launch Services Limited, Deimos, Reutech Radar Systems and Alden Advisers have been awarded £56,576 to develop a business plan and initial concept of operations for commercial range control services in support of orbital space launches from Spaceport Cornwall. The project will analyze applicable UK regulations, vehicle trajectories and other inputs in order to derive top-level requirements for the range control services.

Inmarsat Global Ltd., together with its partner organization Deimos UK Limited, has been awarded £63,328 to conduct a feasibility study and business case assessment to investigate providing a bespoke SATCOM service for launch providers with a SATCOM terminal integrated on the launch vehicle itself.

Executive Comment

Claire Barcham, UK Space Agency’s Director of Commercial Space said public safety is at the heart of the agency's efforts to enable spaceflight from the UK and range services are an essential part of this work. The commercial provision of range services presents a new opportunity for businesses and, through the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency is advancing these exciting developments.