Satellite Applications Catapult and The Aerospace Corporation UK Collaborate on In-Orbit Servicing Capabilities

13 May 2024 – The Satellite Applications Catapult and The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) UK Ltd initiated discussions for collaboration and linking of their two robotics facilities –– one in Westcott, UK, and the other in El Segundo, California, USA.

Integration of these facilities will allow faster validation and verification of emerging in-space servicing capabilities, whilst promoting international collaboration. This in turn will benefit the entire sector, reducing the time companies take to develop products and ultimately delivering proofs of concept for funders, investors and insurers more quickly.

In-scope technologies include innovative commercial artificial intelligence solutions for rendezvous and proximity operations in space, which serve the national interest of both countries.

This type of coordinated testing builds international confidence in linked capabilities, consistent with the Collaboration Statement for IOSM/ISAM between UKspace, the UK’s space sector trade association, CONFERS and AIAA to realise the synergies of working together.

“This opportunity allows both nations to build confidence to accelerate the path from development to deployment by providing answers to the questions raised by regulators, investors, integrators and those who insure these activities. The initiative builds on benefits of testbeds and proving grounds to inform stakeholders across the space enterprise to see rapid returns on their investments.” said Ron Birk, Principal Director of Space Enterprise Evolution Directorate in the Aerospace Corporation Civil Systems Group.

“The Aerospace Corporation in the UK works to connect initiatives in the national interests of both countries and this integration will allow us to unlock immense benefits for companies in the UK and the US. We see this as a first step in enabling commercial entities to collectively establish trust through delivering ‘flight proven equivalency’ for our collective national capabilities” said David Sandy, Managing Director of The Aerospace Corporation UK Ltd.

“This agreement will open doors for companies in the US and UK. Both countries have invested in cutting edge and complementary new space testing facilities focussed on in-orbit services, assembly and manufacturing. Sharing and streamlining access to those facilities means UK companies get easier access to US facilities and US companies get easier access to UK facilities. That makes sense for everyone.” said Richard Lowe, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Westcott IOSM Yard

The IOSM Yard is a state-of-the-art facility for testing close-proximity operations and in-orbit servicing technologies. It provides a dynamic platform to validate technologies prior to launch using robotic equipment to simulate a microgravity environment. The yard is currently undergoing a £2m upgrade funded by the UK Space Agency to support the growing IOSM sector within the UK, providing access to the large-scale equipment needed to replicate orbital conditions and flight dynamics.

CAVE

Collaborative & Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem (CAVE): CAVE provides an environment and ecosystem for research, development, integration and testing of autonomous sub-systems and systems using Vicon motion capture camera, robotic arms, rovers and drones to explore how increased autonomy and collaborative robotics will make autonomous space systems manageable.

 

 

About Satellite Applications Catapult

The Satellite Applications Catapult is an independent innovation and technology company, created by Innovate UK to drive economic growth through the exploitation of space. We work with businesses of all sizes to realise their potential from space infrastructure and its applications, and we bring together multi-disciplinary teams to generate ideas and solutions in an open innovation environment. For more information visit sa.catapult.org.uk.

 

About The Aerospace Corporation UK Ltd

The Aerospace Corporation UK Ltd is the wholly owned UK subsidiary of The Aerospace Corporation. Headquartered in Salisbury, Wiltshire, this small-to-medium enterprise is focused on supporting a number of different government organizations in the UK space economy. The company has been established to support UK efforts in a variety of space areas, including launch, space situational awareness, systems acquisition, and program management. For more information, visit www.aerospace.org/uk.

About The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has more than 4,600 employees. With major locations in Chantilly, Virginia; El Segundo, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aerospace addresses complex problems across the space enterprise and other areas of national and international significance through agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership. For more information, visit www.aerospace.org. Follow us on X: @AerospaceCorp.

 

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