Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow is a space industry hub

Clyde Space CubeSat


The United Kingdom is the only country to have successfully developed and then abandoned a satellite launch capability, when the Black Arrow project was cancelled July 29, 1971. The UK was third only to the United States and USSR in the field of rocket technology, with a viable satellite launch programme and even plans for manned missions. A brief summary can be found in Britain’s first space pioneers.

I’ve no idea if there was any Scottish involvement at the time, or if there were any significant Scots in the programme.

However, in later years, I do know from my involvement in Scottish electronics manufacture that there were a number of American companies based in Glenrothes, and they were involved in manufacturing hardware used in spacecraft assembly, but I suspect their work may have been largely bound for aerospace applications, rather than space. Raytheon was developing space components from its base in Glenrothes in the 1960s, while Ferranti in Edinburgh built the initial navigation platform which was used for the Ariane launch vehicle.

Now, it would appear that Glasgow is seeing a rise in popularity as a centre for space development.

Previously, Glasgow based Clyde Space only built sub-systems, but was recently awarded the rights, by the new UK Space Agency, to design a tiny, cube-shaped satellite that will allow British Space experts to explore some of the questions about the solar system. UKube-1 is due to be launched in mid 2011, and is smaller than a home computer. In future, it could be used for space weather and atmospheric studies, particle science, or the early detection of bush fires or Tsunamis.

Clyde Space is now the largest indigenous space company in Scotland, and produces high-quality, high-performance systems for very small spacecraft called “CubeSats”.

The company made the news recently, with the announcement of a £1 million funding package, which will allow it to expand its current operation.

Space in Scotland

The University of Strathclyde hosts the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, which works with teams from Astrium, described as the third biggest space enterprise on the planet, and contractor to ESA (European Space Agency).

STAR-Dundee Ltd is the global leading developer and supporter of SpaceWire technology, a computer network used to connect elements like sensors or telescopes on board spacecraft.

The University of St Andrews is home to the School of Physics and Astronomy.

All these organisations work with the UK Space Agency.

See also Space age scotland – The Official Gateway to Scotland.

Update February 2012

I wish I could buy shares in most of the companies I spot – they often seem to turn up later doing well (unless they are ones which I have selected to poke fun at, which hopefully all go away and are never heard of again),

Clyde Space has been awarded funding to progress with two projects:

The firm has secured nearly £70,000 under the UK Space Agency’s National Space Technology Programme (NSTP).

The funding will help Clyde further work on miniaturised electric propulsion systems for very small spacecraft.

The other project involves developing attitude planning and control algorithms for low cost spacecraft.

Clyde has been working on tiny electric propulsion systems for very small spacecraft called “CubeSats” and nanosatellites with Southampton-based Mars Space Ltd.

Funding of £24,000 has been awarded for their joint work on a micro pulsed plasma thruster for CubeSats.

Clyde said the project would take the technology forward to a flight-ready prototype.

The UK Space Agency awarded a further £44,000 for a joint project with the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory at the University of Strathclyde.

That project involves optimising algorithms for control of CubeSat attitude, furthering work already completed at Clyde.

Via Glasgow firm Clyde Space awarded funding

Guess I’ll just have to keep watching for their name to pop up again.


February 2, 2011 - Posted by | Civilian | , , ,

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