UK Space Agency funds comms, navigation services for Moon missions
It is part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight programme, which ultimately aims to launch a constellation of satellites into orbit around the Moon, from 2028.
The aim is to allow future astronauts, autonomous rovers, and other equipment to communicate, share large amounts of data and navigate safely across the lunar surface. The data will include the live streaming of high-definition video.
“Space and satellite science and technology are at the forefront of our Science Superpower mission, which is why we have set out a 10-year Industrial Strategy for Space to attract the billions of commercial investment now coming into this sector, already worth £16.5 billion to the UK economy,” said the Minister of State in the UK Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, George Freeman.
“This new funding will help UK companies provide satellite services for the fast-emerging lunar communications economy for years to come, deepening our international collaborations through ESA, kick-starting the lunar economy and inspiring a new generation of scientists and explorers.”
Apparently, says the UKSA, the UK is one of the two leading international investors in the programme, alongside Italy.
The agency writes:
“The UK already leads the Lunar Pathfinder project to provide initial communications services to the Moon, which will also help to prepare for the next stage of Moonlight. The Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft, designed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), will include a navigation payload demonstrator to allow positioning and navigation on the lunar surface using satellites for the first time, similar to how we use satellite navigation on Earth. It is due to launch from 2025.”
See also: UK Space Agency allocates £50m for satellite comms projects