UK Space Agency Announces Funding for 23 Ground-Breaking Space Technology Projects

UK Space Agency Announces Funding for 23 Ground-Breaking Space Technology Projects

The UK Space Agency has announced 23 innovative and inventive projects that could boost UK leadership in new space technologies and applications around the world.

The Enabling Technologies Program (ETP) provides opportunities for the UK space sector to accelerate the development of leading-edge technologies that could be used to tackle global problems and benefit the work of space organizations. internationally.  

The total government funding is £4 million - made up of £3.2 million from the UK Space Agency with £800,000 contributed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  

The projects from academia and industry explore how space can be used more efficiently for purposes such as weather prediction, climate-change monitoring, and space debris removal through methods of propulsion, sterilization, in-orbit servicing, imaging, and more. 

Dr. Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: Space science and technology has never been more important to life on Earth. The Enabling Technologies Program demonstrates how our work at the UK Space Agency is empowering scientists and engineers in universities, companies, and research institutes to develop new capabilities and advance the technologies of tomorrow. From the use of space data for weather prediction and flood monitoring to new methods of propulsion and in-orbit servicing, these new projects are great examples of how we can harness the power of space to protect our planet and people.

One project from the University of Glasgow explores how a spacecraft can consume its own body as fuel – to support scalable, cost-effective low-Earth orbit access.

Meanwhile, the University of Bristol looks at the use of data from the UK-backed Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, targeting an order of magnitude improvement in accuracy for global flood modeling.   

Another, run by Oxford Dynamics looks at how a long-range radar system could detect objects in low Earth orbit to support space debris mitigation operations. 

Professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director, Programmes, said: We are living through an incredibly exciting time for the UK space industry. Thanks to initiatives such as the Enabling Technologies Program, our space scientists are continually pushing the frontiers of Earth observation, satellite communications, and even manned space exploration, with untold benefits to society. STFC is proud to partner with the UK Space Agency to support the UK space science community and help solidify the UK’s position as a world leader in the space economy.

Support from the ETP fund is key to addressing project barriers in research and development, bringing high-value space technologies to market that can create jobs and benefit people, businesses, and communities for generations to come. 


  • University of Southampton (£201,000) – Development of a sterilisation method using non-thermal plasma to support human spaceflight and exploration.
  • University of Southampton (£102,000) – Development of Raman-spectroscopy (which uses scattered light to measure vibrational energy of samples) for detecting low-level biosignatures (substances that provide evidence of life), which will particularly support the exploration of icy worlds, including the Moon and Mars. 
  • Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, UK (£240,000) – Development of a low SWaP light detection and ranging method (LiDAR) instrument that can be mounted onto unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support Earth observation.  
  • Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, UK (£247,000) – Development of low-cost, room temperature photon counting detectors that can be used in imaging, sensing, and optical communications.
  • University of Manchester (£190,000) – Development of alternative motion techniques that expand the range and operating capabilities for extra-terrestrial robotics, supporting future rover and exploration missions.
  • Imperial College London (£144,000) – Development of a new approach for magnetometer systems that reduces the need for booms on a spacecraft, helping to lower the cost of space science missions.
  • MDA Space and Robotics (£147,000)– Development of a novel laser sensor to make complex, vision-based missions possible in poor illumination conditions.
  • RAL Space (£233,000) – Development of a highly stabilized laser that can be used in low Earth orbit to support space weather measurement.? 
  • MDA Space and Robotics UK (£141,000) – Development of short-range, rotating LiDAR, more efficient in terms of size, weight, and power, that can be used in planetary surface robotics.
  • Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey (£250,000) – Development of a detector for high energy particles that can be used in solar or cosmic ray missions and to enhance space weather predictions.
  • University of Birmingham (£250,000) – Development of a new operational and technical capability to assess the state and condition of satellites from orbit using sub-THz radar imagery, supporting in-orbit service capabilities. 
  • University of Leicester (£183,000) – Development of sample return instrument boxes and portable sample containers to support rover and sample return missions.
  • Durham University (£159,000) – Development of a solar polarimeter (an optical instrument used to determine polarization of light samples) that can be wavelength-tuned to measure the solar magnetic field over several hundred kilometers depth within the second layer of the Sun’s atmosphere.
  • University of Hertfordshire (£100,000) – Project to substantially increase the dynamic range of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging sensors to support astronomy, in collaboration with XCAM and the Open University. 
  • University of Glasgow (£250,000) – Additive manufacturing material and process testing in a simulated space environment, enabling rapid, sustainable, and cost-effective component qualification.
  • University of Glasgow (£290,000) – Pilot scale testing of an autophage (self-consuming) propulsion system – whereby the spacecraft consumes its own body as fuel – which supports scalable, cost-effective low Earth orbit access.
  • Teer Coatings Ltd (£124,000) – Development of a novel bimetallic doped, thin-film MoS2 solid lubricant with a long lifetime, low friction coefficient, and stability under atmospheric conditions. An enabling technology for long-duration missions. 
  • Oxford Dynamics (£194,000) – Development of a long-range radar system capable of detecting objects in low Earth orbit, which could support space debris mitigation operations. 
  • Newton Launch Systems (£194,000) – Development of a nitrous oxide monopropellant thruster using induction heating as the trigger, with the aim of providing a solution to end-of-life satellite disposal. 
  • University of Bristol (£206,000) – Use of data from NASA’s UK-backed Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission to improve the order of magnitude accuracy for global flood modeling. 
  • Orbit Fab (£228,000) – Development of an in-orbit refueling interface, using a grasping technique, to enhance satellite servicing solutions that support sustainable space operations. 
  • University of Strathclyde (£250,000) – Development of a technique combining hyperspectral technology (imagine using a wide electromagnetic spectrum) with machine learning to determine the movement of space objects, which could support active debris removal operations.
  • GMV (£250,000) – Development of a novel distributed simulation environment using a robotic testbed with digital twins and cutting-edge extended reality to verify and validate IOSM operations. An enabling technology for in-orbit refueling and satellite servicing.

Click here to learn more about the UK's Enabling Technologies Program.

Publisher: SatNow
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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013