Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites: The Key to Reliable Connectivity
Satellite Resilience Demonstrated During Ukraine Crisis
In an ambitious move to bolster the UK’s standing in the ever-expanding global satellite market, the government has unveiled plans for a groundbreaking £160 million scheme. This transformative initiative aims to actively support the development of the next generation of satellite communications, spearheading advancements in 5G and broadband coverage across the country.
Advancing Satellite Technology
CLEO Scheme: Empowering Smarter Satellites through the Satellite Communications Scheme
LEO Satellites represent the next generation of space technology, offering unparalleled resilience and resistance to disabling attempts. Their vital importance was demonstrated during Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine when they ensured continuous and reliable connectivity, even in the most challenging circumstances.
The proposed scheme, dubbed Connectivity in Low Earth Orbit (CLEO), represents a strategic leap forward, building on our country’s established and thriving satellite industry. It would provide crucial support to UK researchers and businesses, empowering them to spearhead the development of new constellations.
This comprehensive initiative entails supporting smarter satellites with enhanced hardware capabilities, leveraging AI to expedite data delivery, and fostering seamless satellite interconnection – all contributing to the creation of vast interconnected networks serving billions worldwide.
UK Businesses Supported Towards Global Leadership
The proposed scheme would ensure UK businesses are supported in developing the next generation of low Earth orbit satellites, driving the UK’s thriving satellite industry towards global leadership.
This development would mark the UK’s most significant ever investment in satellite communications, unleashing our country’s potential to become a global giant of the satellite industry while creating hundreds of highly skilled jobs to boost the Prime Minister’s priority of growing our economy.
Unlocking the UK’s Satellite Potential
Grant Funding and ESA Collaboration
To bolster the UK’s capabilities and long-term ambitions in the space sector, the government is exploring grant funding of up to £100 million.
Additionally, discussions are underway to secure an additional £60 million from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) UK-backed Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program. This comprehensive investment would cement the UK’s leadership in critical areas of next-generation satellite communication technologies, including AI and machine learning.
Addressing the Digital Divide
The primary goal of the CLEO scheme is to deliver the research and development needed to launch hundreds of satellites into space. This transformative effort aims to revolutionize the UK’s communication infrastructure and bridge connectivity gaps, particularly in remote and underserved areas.
By addressing the digital divide, the government aims to empower citizens across the country, leveling up the nation while fostering economic growth through high-quality job opportunities.
Paving the Way for Global Leadership
A Vision of Science, Innovation, and Technology Secretary
Science, Innovation, and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said,
“Tackling the digital divide is at the heart of empowering our citizens wherever they live, and by investing in the vital research and development that CLEO would facilitate, we can level up our country while growing the economy through high-quality jobs.”
Harshbir Sangha’s Perspective on CLEO
Harshbir Sangha, Missions and Capabilities Delivery Director at the UK Space Agency praised the announcement, emphasizing its alignment with the agency’s goals.
Sangha sees the CLEO scheme as a critical step toward maximizing the potential of low Earth orbit and positioning the UK as a global leader in next-generation satellite communication technologies.
He hopes that this initiative will attract investment, build on existing capabilities, and pave the way for a significant share of the fast-moving global market.
Government’s Commitment to Space Superpower Status
The National Space Council’s Role in Driving Economic Growth
The announcement comes on the heels of the reintroduction of the government’s National Space Council, signifying a major milestone in the UK’s mission to become a true space superpower.
Co-chaired by the Science and Defence Secretaries, the Council takes charge of coordinating government space policy and actively seizing the abundant opportunities presented by the space sector to drive job creation and foster economic growth.
This strategic move aligns perfectly with the Prime Minister’s five key priorities, and the CLEO scheme represents a pivotal and indispensable step toward realizing this ambitious vision