Thursday 24 June 2021 3:28 pm

SpaceX to launch UK-built satellites into space to track climate change

SpaceX is set to launch three UK-built satellites into space tomorrow, designed to monitor climate change and track endangered wildlife.

The UK companies behind the environment tracking tech received a near £15m from the UK Space Agency, through the European Space Agency’s Pioneer Partnership Programme.

“As we get ready to host the UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow later this year, the UK is leading the way in exploiting space to tackle climate change, developing satellites that enable our world-class scientists to monitor the environment in remarkable detail,” science minister Amanda Solloway said.

Two of the satellites, launching from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, were built by Glasgow-based satellite specialist firm Spire.

The two satellites will develop optical inter-satellite links (ISL) to provide a step-change in how large amounts of data get from space to Earth.

The third satellite has been built by In-Space Missions, based in Hampshire.

“As well as supporting our climate ambitions, these British-built satellites will provide exciting innovation in remote sensing and tracking, kickstarting industry to offer new services that will help to improve all our lives,” Solloway added.

Moonlight initiative

The UK has been beefing up its space and satellite offerings post-Brexit and in the run up to COP26.

In May, the UK Space Agency funded another three British space firms to develop their satellites as part of its Moonlight initiative.

The plan, under the Moonlight initiative, is to set up a small space station in lunar orbit that will act as a solar-powered communication hub.

The ambitious plan is so Europe and the UK will be able to take regular trips to “Earth’s natural satellite” – the moon – instead of one-off expeditions, the ESA said.