Reusable rocket engines and satellite tools could help the UK conquer the final frontier
The UK space industry is set to receive a £200 million boost from the government, including a £60 million investment into SABRE – a revolutionary rocket engine that could reduce the cost of space travel, and a £134 million investment into meteorological satellite tools designed by Astrium.
The announcement was made at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, who said the money would help the country reach the ambitious target of capturing ten percent of the space-related technology market.
SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) is being developed by Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines Limited. It is the extension of LACE (Liquid Air Cycle Engine) technology, created by founder of Reaction Engines Alan Bond in the 1980s, and one of the very few designs capable of reaching Earth’s orbit with just one reusable stage.
According to the government, SABRE could potentially create 21,000 high value engineering and manufacturing jobs, establish the UK in the space transportation market and drive growth in related technology areas.
“SABRE has the potential to completely transform how we access space. By supporting this breakthrough technology we are giving the UK a leading position in a growing market of new generation launchers and removing one of the main barriers to the growth of commercial activity in space,” said Willets.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth –based Astrium will be designing the new MicroWave Sounder (MWS) – a specialised tool for weather satellites that will measure the atmospheric temperature and water content sitting at different altitudes, in clear or cloudy skies. It is being built on behalf of the European Space Agency, with the first satellites carrying MWS expected to go into orbit after 2020.
“This substantial contract shows that the UK’s increased investment in the European Space Agency is already paying dividends and getting us ahead in the global race and the space race. It confirms our space industry’s world-class position and will see Astrium working with other leading businesses, scientists and engineers to develop cutting edge satellite technology,” added Willets.
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