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C-LEO Initiative launches with big funding boost for Constellations
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C-LEO Initiative launches with big funding boost for Constellations
by Sophie Jenkins
London, UK (SPX) Apr 02, 2024

In an ambitious move to strengthen its position in the global space sector, the UK Space Agency announced the launch of the Connectivity in Low Earth Orbit (C-LEO) programme, outlined in the recent Spring Budget. The Chancellor has earmarked up to GBP 160 million to bolster UK expertise over the next four years, with the programme's first funding call making GBP 60 million available today.

The initiative is set against the backdrop of the UK's esteemed history in satellite design, manufacturing, and operation of extensive satellite constellations. This financial injection is deemed essential for the UK to retain its competitive advantage amidst the global space industry's rapid evolution and expansion.

Last year marked a significant milestone with over 2,900 satellites deployed into orbit, a record number, primarily within commercial constellations. These constellations are expected to see exponential growth, opening lucrative opportunities for the UK space industry to secure high-value contracts worldwide and spearhead the satellite communication sector's development.

Andrew Griffith MP, the Minister for Space, emphasized the transformative potential of satellite communications, from enhancing navigation accuracy and mobile connectivity to improving healthcare access globally. He stated, "Through the UK space programme, we're allocating up to GBP 60 million to support top-tier UK teams to capitalize on these opportunities."

Dr. Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, highlighted the UK's role as a hub for satellite communications innovation and expertise. He stressed that ongoing growth necessitates continuous, strategic funding. "This substantial new investment reaffirms the UK's dedication to the satellite communications industry, aiding in bringing new projects to fruition," said Bate.

The funding is earmarked for R and D projects aimed at enhancing satellite constellation capabilities, such as more efficient data processing in space and improved customer service on Earth. This is crucial for advancing communication services vital to the success of emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and drone-delivered healthcare, positioning the UK as a leader in the fast-growing market for low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations.

The initiative promises to stimulate investment, expand manufacturing capabilities, and enhance connectivity in the UK's remote and hard-to-reach areas and globally. With project awards reaching up to GBP 20 million, the funding will be provided directly by the UK Space Agency and through the European Space Agency's Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme.

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