Harwell companies secure a third of new government space funding


Over a third of new funding for British space technology has been secured by organisations in Harwell’s Space Cluster in Oxfordshire.

Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman this week announced a £2 million boost from the UK Space Agency for 13 new projects.

Successful projects included bids by Harwell-based MDA, GMV, and STFC .

GMV‘s Moon-RISE: Moon Robotic Inspection project received funding of £222,000. The aim of the project is to identify and characterise the potential of the resources – like water – that can support sustainable human and robotic exploration of the Moon and the Solar System beyond.

MDA‘s LEIA Hybrid Qualification was awarded £421,000. The grant will support the qualification of the company’s LEIA LIDAR, which is used to provide a 3D map for spacecraft landing on the Moon. LEIA has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the emerging commercial space market and will be a key component for a new generation of companies providing payload delivery services to the Moon over the next few years.

And STFC‘s architectural feasibility study for the Curation and Analysis Facility for Extra-terrestrial Samples has been awarded £40,000. The study will develop the construction process for the UK’s first bespoke, dedicated facility for the preparation, characterisation and analysis of pristine extraterrestrial samples. There are at least eight missions planning to return samples from asteroids and Mars over the coming decade. These missions will move planetary science from analysis by space instrumentation to analysis using more sophisticated techniques on Earth.

George Freeman said: “As we celebrate British Science Week, I am pleased to announce this £2 million package to support 13 new projects for the UK’s brilliant scientists and engineers to help us take significant strides in space exploration and discovery.

“In addition to discovery breakthroughs, these projects will also ensure that people here on Earth benefit from new technology, including micro-reactor technology with the potential to support our Net Zero commitments.”