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UK Space Agency Awards $4.9 Million to Spire

By Kendall Russell | February 5, 2018
      A Spire Lemur 2. Photo: Spire Global.

      A Spire Lemur 2. Photo: Spire Global.

      The U.K. Space Agency has awarded more than 4 million pounds ($5.59 million) to Spire Global to demonstrate space technology including parallel super-computing. The announcement gives the green light to missions designed to showcase the technology and put U.K. companies into orbit faster and at a lower cost. The U.K. is the largest funder of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Satellites (ARTES) program, which transforms research into successful commercial projects.

      Lord Henley, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced the funding on a visit to Spire’s U.K. base in Glasgow, where the company intends to create new jobs to add to its existing workforce.

      “Thanks to this new funding, Spire will be able to cement its activities in the U.K., develop new technologies and use space data to provide new services to consumers that will allow businesses to access space quicker and at a lower cost — offering an exciting opportunity for the U.K. to thrive in the commercial space age,” Henley said. “Through the government’s industrial strategy, we are encouraging other high-tech British businesses to pursue more commercial opportunities with the aim of growing the U.K.’s share of the global space market to 10 percent by 2030.”

      The ARTES Pioneer program is designed to support industry by funding the demonstration of advanced technologies, systems, services and applications in a representative space environment. Part of this is to support one or more Space Mission Providers (SMPs), which could deliver commercial services to private companies or public bodies.

      One of Spire’s validation missions will develop parallel super-computing in space — a core component for future computationally intensive missions. A second, exploitation of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for weather applications, will leverage Galileo signals for GNSS Radio Occultation (RO). Radio occultation is a key data input for the improvement of weather forecasts. Upon completion, the GNSS-RO technology can be immediately commercialized, Spire stated.