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Lift off for Wales’ First UK Space Conference

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The UK Space Conference opens today at ICC Wales, as the UK Space Agency confirms it will provide funding to support the development of the proposed spaceport at Llanbedr Airfield.

More than 1,800 people will attend the conference over the next three days (24-26 September), including representatives from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, NASA and the Australian Space Agency.

The Snowdonia Spaceport Development Plan will receive up to £500,000 from UK government, via the UK Space Agency. This will be used to support plans to create a centre for space Research and Development, training and satellite launch, building on Llanbedr Airfield’s rich heritage in experimental flight testing.

Wales is already home to unique space expertise and facilities with the number of space sector organisations growing by more than a third since 2015.

Kevin Foster MP, UK Government Minister for Wales, said: 

“This is an exciting time for the space sector in Wales. With this new UK Government funding we have the opportunity to play a significant role in shaping the future space economy.

“A spaceport at Llanbedr would cement our reputation for innovation and take Wales into the commercial space age, creating jobs and strengthening the aerospace supply chain across the country.”

The UK Space Agency is working closely with the Welsh Government to help meet Welsh ambitions for space and the UK Government’s strategic priorities.

Ken Skates, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport said:

“I am delighted the Welsh Government is supporting this major event in the space community calendar.

“Wales has a real opportunity to take advantage of the commercialisation of space and play an important part in growing the UK space sector to the 2030 target of 10% of the estimated £400bn global space economy.

“Developments which we are backing including at Llanbedr are a clear demonstration of the Welsh Government’s commitment to the sector.”

The UK Government through the UK Space Agency has also worked with Welsh Government to announce new funding for satellite enabled technology and applications to support remote healthcare services in rural Welsh communities. Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has been awarded £86,000 for a project to conduct a proof-of-concept demonstration using space technology development, showing how satellite-enabled drones could be used as part of a broader satellite-enabled network to support remote healthcare in rural Welsh communities.

Tactical Wireless Ltd and Emergency Medical Retrieval & Transfer Service have been awarded £57,000 to build a bespoke, enhanced communications hub, capable of bonding multi-network cellular and satellite links, so as to provide enhanced and resilient communications from a mobile platform using space technology.  This module will have wi-fi hotspot capability and be demountable from the vehicle for healthcare visits in Rural Wales.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

“The space sector in Wales is growing and it’s exciting to be in the fantastic new International Convention Centre Wales for the UK Space Conference 2019, which I’m sure will spark new collaborations and partnerships.

“From our investment in the Snowdonia Spaceport Development Plan to funding to tackle healthcare issues we are working to boost the Welsh space sector even further. The skills and expertise here mean the sky really is the limit.”

Both governments are represented at the Space Conference including the UK Government Minister for Wales Kevin Foster MP, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM and Dickie Davis OBE, Deputy Director for the Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Sector, Welsh Government.

As well as industry, 450 local schoolchildren will attend the conference, taking part in space education activities including a tour of the Moon, handling Moon rocks, finding out about the latest UK rocket technology and a talk from Tim Peake.

They will be joined by 50 “SPINterns” – undergraduates and graduates on Space Placements in Industry – who will deliver pitches and presentations on topics including Forecasting Wildfires through Disruption of Navigation and Timing Signals, Designing Hybrid Rocket Engines and Studying the Atmospheric Structure of Mars.

60 teachers from primary and secondary schools will learn about using space in the classroom during two days of teacher conferences held as part of the main conference and organised by the UK’s space education office, ESERO-UK.

The UK Space Conference is the first international event to be held at the ICC Wales convention centre. It is organised by a committee chaired by the UK Space Agency and supported by a representative from industry and academia.