Nov 23, 2023
Airbus Defence and Space in the UK has been awarded £3.9 million from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to create a space and connectivity catalyst at its headquarters in Stevenage. Airbus will create a range of facilities at its 14 acre site available to new and existing space players to encourage growth in the wider space ecosystem. The new Space Catalyst will be part of Airbus’ Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) programme which aims to grow the activity of the UK space supply chain, research and outreach activities.
Ben Bridge, Chairman of Airbus Defence and Space UK said: “We have always been committed to encouraging new entrants into the UK’s vibrant space economy, and this award will enable us to take it to the next level. By building dedicated facilities at our Stevenage headquarters, new and existing space players will be able to take advantage of the laboratories, test facilities and existing infrastructure and tap into the expertise of the 1,200 skilled workforce based on site, further strengthening the UK’s sovereign space capability.”
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Airbus to create a range of new space facilities in Stevenage to support the wider sector, as part of its Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) programme. Infrastructure like this will help ensure the UK stays at the forefront of international space missions and fosters advanced capabilities, generating more opportunities for business, suppliers and researchers, and inspiring the future workforce.
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“The Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund highlights the government’s commitment to space and will help deliver the goal set out in the National Space Strategy to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, developing new skills and creating jobs.”
UKSA launched its Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) competition in May 2023. In total, UKSA is awarding more than £47m to fund new initiatives and broaden the UK’s industrial space based economy. The latest figures from UKSA show the UK space industry is worth more than £17.5 billion a year to the economy.
Airbus has launched the Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) as an initiative which brings together all the various activities and opportunities that Airbus has for the Space industry in the UK under one approach. CUSP has been designed as an open and inclusive community, with opportunities for suppliers, researchers and those joining the Space industry. Airbus wants to ensure that it continues to grow the Space industry in the UK.
Airbus’ plans include creating a series of laboratories for a range of disciplines including robotics, flat satellites, digital twins, cyber etc, which will be available for use by companies in the sector. This would enable innovative hardware to be rapidly matured and de-risked with all facilities connected to enable demonstration of a full mission.
The facilities will also include a high-tech lab space for collaborative work, or stand-alone industrial use on Virtual and Augmented Reality, enabling new missions to be played and scenario planning. It is expected to attract companies in areas as diverse as space robotics, remote sensing, planetary sciences, climate change, electric aviation, and mixed autonomy traffic operations among others.
The space catalyst will also have the opportunity to link with the Stevenage Bio Science Catalyst to advance space base bioscience research and commercialisation.