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Investment to Supercharge Space Infrastructure in Wales


Space research, manufacturing and testing facilities in Wales will get a boost of £8 million thanks to a new fund from the UK Space Agency. 

The Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund has awarded more than £47 million to 12 projects across the UK, with projects in Cardiff and Gwynedd set to benefit.

Not only will the funding support the growth of UK space businesses and create new jobs, but it will enhance the UK’s offering of space capabilities and services to international investors and major space players.

Almost £8 million will go to Cardiff-based Space Forge for a National Microgravity Research Centre, for advanced material research and production. Alongside the development of centre tooling and open access facilities for customers, the centre will create a central space hub for the growing Welsh space sector.

£800,000 will go to Snowdonia LLP to develop the Space Technology Test Centre (STTC) at the Snowdonia Space Centre, Llanbedr, Gwynedd, in partnership with Newton Launch Systems Ltd.

The centre will exploit the unique location of the Snowdonia Space Centre, with its own immediate Danger Area and direct access to a larger Danger Area over Cardigan Bay, to provide a flight test range for rocket-powered test vehicles, near-space scientific flights, microgravity research and trials of re-entry vehicles and payload recovery systems.

The test range will be complemented by a space technology testing laboratory featuring a centrifuge, thermal vacuum chamber, vibration table, aerostructures rig and a rocket engine test stand.

Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, said: 

“The space sector in Wales is expanding rapidly and I’m delighted to see almost £8 million worth of UK Government investment going to projects in both north and south Wales. This means new highly-skilled jobs will be created, and world class facilities will be developed which will support continued growth in the industry in Wales.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: 

“Our space sector has been concentrated in London and the South East, but in recent years we’ve seen the emergence of vibrant clusters across the whole of the country. These projects demonstrate the potential of our thriving space sector across the length and breadth of the UK to develop innovative space infrastructure that helps us to deliver increasingly ambitious missions and capabilities, and champions the power of space to improve lives.

“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.”

Joshua Western, CEO and Co-Founder of Cardiff-based Space Forge, said:

“This is a significant milestone for Space Forge. With the establishment of our National Microgravity Research Centre, we are poised to drive innovation, research, and production of advanced materials. This endeavour strengthens our presence in the UK and has incredible potential for the sovereign supply chain. We are excited to provide a platform for space companies through our ‘pathway to space' initiative, and we can help start-ups not far behind us accelerate their microgravity research and hardware development – alongside helping them avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made along our journey.”

The government has previously invested in space infrastructure such as the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) and National Space Propulsion Test Facility on a case-by-case basis. The NSTF, due to open later this year in Harwell, features the UK’s largest vacuum test chamber, where satellites the size of a double decker bus will be exposed to extremes of hot and cold for months at a time, and a vibration facility that replicates the conditions of a rocket launch. The National Space Propulsion Test Facility in Westcott allows UK organisations to test state-of-the-art engines which move small satellites in space, at a more affordable rate than having to go abroad.

The UK Space Agency’s funding for national projects, including SCIF, is in addition to £1.84 billion invested through the European Space Agency in November, ensuring the UK’s space and commercial satellite sector will play a leading role in future international missions and innovative commercial programmes.

Business News Wales