New space contracts for UK companies as Sentinel satellite lifts off

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The UK space sector has secured contracts worth more than €12 million on the Copernicus programme, as the latest satellite in the series is due to lift off.

The Sentinel-3B satellite, which features systems built in the UK, will join six other satellites monitoring and measuring the Earth’s environment from space.

The majority of information they collect is freely available to anyone in the world so it can be used for anything from agriculture to urban planning, as well as tackling global issues like climate change.

Ahead of the satellite’s launch from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome due just before 7pm today, the European Space Agency announced the UK has secured a number of contracts for future work in the Copernicus programme.

Between Airbus UK and Thales Alenia Space, the UK has secured more than €12 million worth of contracts, including important work on two missions, Land Surface Temperature and the Polar Microwave Imaging.

Sam Gyimah, Science Minister, said: “The UK space sector is a success story and our capabilities in Earth observation satellite technology are second to none. These latest contracts confirm the vital role of British research, innovation and industry to Copernicus.

“We’ve been clear that we want our companies and universities to continue participating in key EU space programmes, as long as they can take part on a fair and open basis. Our leading role in the European Space Agency will not change as we leave the EU, and this Government will ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age through our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Andy Stroomer, UK Business Development Director for space at Airbus, said: “The Copernicus programme provides a hugely important contribution towards global monitoring of the environment.

“Airbus in the UK has been a major player in the development of satellites, ground systems and services supporting Copernicus. Contributions include: leadership of the Sentinel-5P atmospheric chemistry mission; the cornerstone radar instrument electronics for Sentinel 1; and cryogenic coolers underpinning the performance of this Sentinel 3 mission. We look forward to continuing to play key roles in future Copernicus missions.”

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