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UK gets ground control capabilities for satellites

UK: The UK’s new national satellite operations base has been officially launched as part of a GBP 40m space business and research centre. The Earth Observation (EO) Hub, a component of the new International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, will give the UK its own ground control capabilities for operating a variety of satellite missions.

A consortium led by Astrium built the hub as a first step in establishing an overall sovereign EO capability, with partners including Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). SSTL tested the system by using the UK-DMC and UK-DMC2 disaster-monitoring satellites, validating the telemetry monitoring and spacecraft command capabilities of the system.

The hub and the establishment of the UK sovereign EO capability are part of a space sector strategy to encourage direct collaboration between government, industry and academia. “The UK space industry is worth an estimated GBP 7.5bn, and to continue this success businesses need the right environment for sustainable growth and innovation,” said science minister David Willetts.

“ISIC provides excellent facilities for the private sector and academia to work together, encouraging them to develop new space applications and supporting the GBP 10m National Space Technology Programme announced in the Budget.”

The EO groundstation equipment will be used to plan and operate existing and future UK space missions with a high degree of automation, starting next year with TechDemoSat-1, a satellite test bed for UK-developed space technology.

ISIC was initially supported by GBP 12.9m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Other industrial partners include space software company Logica and spacecraft operations specialist VEGA Space.

Source: The Engineer