The UK has launched a new initiative with an initial £15 million of funding for innovative space projects to tackle global issues such as climate change.
The UK Space Agency is inviting proposals for high-risk, high-reward projects to develop new technologies, products or services with the potential to grow the UK space sector and create high-skilled jobs through the National Space Innovation Programme.
Around £10 million of funding will initially support projects focusing on either earth observation technologies or communications projects.
Half of the measurements needed to monitor climate change rely on satellites so the development of more advanced technologies and data analysis techniques will support climate science and inform strategies to reduce emissions to protect local areas from impacts such as flooding, by identifying changes to the environment.
The funding will also support satellite communications as new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics rely on fast, reliable connectivity and may need to operate in remote areas that may be difficult or expensive to reach using ground-based signals or fibre.
Each project will be able to bid for a grant between £200,000 and £2 million.
The remaining £5 million of funding will be used to invest in international projects, supporting closer working relationships with key space faring countries such as Australia, Japan and the US.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK has a thriving space sector and as well as being a science superpower, we want to lead the world in space technology.
“The National Space Innovation Programme will ensure that our best and brightest talent have the backing they need to turn their world class ideas into goods and services, creating jobs and opportunities dedicated to tackling the most pressing global challenges we face.”