UK-built satellites will help fight climate change and save wildlife

Monitoring and combating climate change and tracking endangered wildlife are among the exciting features of three UK-built satellites set to launch on a SpaceX rocket on Friday, June 25.

UK companies have received nearly £ 15million from the UK Space Agency, as part of the European Space Agency’s Pioneer Partnership Program, to develop the trio of satellites set to take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Lacuna Space, based at the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire, is revolutionizing the cost and simplicity of connecting sensors to the Internet, reaching all corners of the Earth using small satellites to support the Internet of Things .

Lacuna sensors, which fit in the palm of your hand and work for years on a single battery charge, can be used to monitor the environment, track wildlife, and help farmers by providing livestock health data and crops and for water and soil management.

The satellites will be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: SpaceX

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

As we prepare to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow later this year, the UK is leading the way in harnessing space to fight climate change, developing satellites that allow our world-class scientists to monitor the environment in remarkable detail.

In addition to supporting climate ambitions, these British-built satellites will provide exciting innovation in remote sensing and tracking, boosting the industry to deliver new services that will help improve all of our lives.

Two of the satellites, built by Spire, in Glasgow, will develop inter-satellite optical links (ISLs) that will provide a radical change in the way we get large amounts of data from space to Earth. This will enable satellite constellations to become integrated networks in space, capable of delivering very large volumes of data at high speed anywhere in the world, including remote and rural areas, disaster areas and at sea.

This improved data and better predictive analytics will improve our understanding of the environment and the impact we have on it.

Spire has been supported by the UK Space Agency, as part of the European Space Agency’s Pioneer Partnership Program with nearly £ 9million in total funding, to develop a range of innovative technologies and platforms for data, including the pair of satellites slated for tomorrow’s launch.

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said:

ESA is proud to enable small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe to become suppliers of space missions and enter the space industry through programs such as Pioneer. It empowers innovators and entrepreneurs to access space through cost-effective processes, creating jobs and driving prosperity, and supporting the success of the European and Canadian space industry in the highly competitive global telecommunications market. .

Theresa Condor, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Spire Space Services, said:

At a critical time for our planet, and with COP26 taking place later this year, we need to be able to map and report rapidly changing phenomena on Earth. This is the main objective of the constellation Speyer. Improved data and better predictive analytics help us better understand our environment and the impact we have on it.

Optical ISL allows us to deliver the most urgent data faster and at higher volumes for critical applications such as weather monitoring and forecasting.

The third satellite is being built by Hampshire-based In-Space Missions, backed by £ 4.9million in funding for this mission and future validation missions which are expected to launch in 2022/2023. The Faraday Phoenix satellite integrates payloads for six customers, including Airbus, Lacuna, SatixFy and Aeternum.

Lacuna sensors were used to monitor king penguins. Credit: Espace Lacuna

Doug Liddle, CEO of In-Space Missions, said:

The In-Space team is incredibly proud to launch our high performing and innovative satellite which came together in less than a year. We are especially excited to be flying a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral – a place with such an incredible history.

The In-Space satellite includes the demonstration payload of Lacuna Space, which is developing a revolutionary IoT satellite service, with funding of £ 800,000. This is the next step in Lacuna’s space network, further improving the company’s ability to support massive deployments for IoT.

Rob Spurrett, CEO of Lacuna, said:

Just like in the early days of the Internet, when it was hard to imagine the impact of connecting everyone, it now seems like there is an endless world of possibilities for connecting physical objects or “things”. . In cities there are plenty of ways to do this, but our service ensures that rural parts of the UK and even the most remote places in the world are a part of this data revolution.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is to be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 8 p.m. BST on Friday, June 25.

Taxi ride to space – other Faraday Phoenix mission payloads:

The mission will pilot In-Space’s own Babel payload as the first incarnation of a future downloadable digital payload offering within the Faraday service. This first release is a high gain, broadband software-defined radio that allows you to download and exercise a number of different applications – from tracking vessel radars to creating heat maps of 4G mobile use. .

Manchester-based SatixFy Space Systems uses the mission to demonstrate its satcom technology in space for the first time. SatixFy’s cubesat computer will be the highest performing product of its kind on the market, supporting up to 4 Gbps of data transmission and enabling businesses to process large amounts of data in orbit. The Portsmouth-built Airbus Prometheus 1 payload with software-defined radio will be able to monitor radio spectrum usage across the world from orbit, detect radar tracking from the Faraday Phoenix satellite and identify and potentially locate search and rescue beacons.

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