Space Tech Spotlight for Swiss and Scots

AstroAgency helps to open new business opportunities for Swiss and Scottish investors and innovators with new events series

 

This article was published on 22 May 2022 in The Scotsman

 

At the occasion of the Switzerland in the UK Tour, a dedicated series of events have been announced to explore avenues for collaboration between Switzerland and the UK in areas of respective technological and service strength.

 

In collaboration with Switzerland Global Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh, AstroAgency has helped to prepare the Edinburgh event, which will focus on the space sector.

 

The Scottish space sector is one of the fastest-growing in Europe and recently set its sights on a  £4 billion market share of the global economy in an ambitious space strategy laid out at Expo 2020.

 

Echoing, AstroAgency’s recently announced collaboration with AzurX, the event in Edinburgh will help build bridges between sector stakeholders and find opportunities for cooperation between the country’s ecosystems.

 

Read the full article: Source

Scotland Soaring to Space Success

This roundtable was published in May 2022 the SSPi Northeast Chapter.

 

Daniel Smith, Creative Director at AstroAgency gave his account of the growth in the Scottish space sector at a New York Space Business Roundtable organised by the Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI).

 

First issue of a three-part series, this roundtable invited guests from across the flourishing Scottish space industry to discuss how it was able to develop opportunities across the length of the sector’s value chain.

 

Daniel was joined by Dr. David Alexander, OBE, Director of the Rice Space Institute, Dr. Calum Forsyth, VC Investor at Techstart Ventures LLP and by Dr. Hina Khan, Sr. Project Manager and UK Stakeholder Engagement Lead at Spire Global, Inc.

 

Get up to speed on the developing financing opportunities in one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors by watching the full video, available here:

 

 

AzurX and AstroAgency to collaborate

AstroAgency and AzurX to open new business opportunities between the UK and UAE for the space sector

 

This article was published on 09 May 2022 in The National

 

AstroAgency will be working with AzurX, a Dubai-based space investment and advisory company to open and foster business development opportunities between the UAE and UK.

 

AzurX’s client portfolio, featuring such prestigious companies as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, complements AstroAgency’s strong presence in the UK’s fast-growing space sector and space sustainability landscape.

 

Growing from their successful collaboration bringing representatives of the Scottish Government and space sector to Expo 2020, AstroAgency and AzurX’s agreement will support global leaders in space sustainability & insurance and open the UAE market to UK businesses.

 

This agreement has garnered high praise from high level players, including Scottish Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee: “Six months on from the launch of Scotland’s space strategy at our Space Day at Expo 2020 Dubai and we are seeing tangible positive results coming to fruition.”

 

“It is great to see dynamic innovative Space sector strategy experts AstroAgency and AzurX coming together to bridge fast-growing commercial space activities between Scotland and the United Arab Emirates … international business partnerships such as this will become even more important to allow exchange of talent, ideas and business connections.”

 

Read the full article – Source

November industry news

November was packed with updates from the space industry, with spectacular launches from SpaceX and RocketLab, the 20th anniversary of permanent human occupation of the ISS, and the launch of a new Moon mission.

 

November also marks a breakthrough month for AstroAgency, who have been awarded a development grant from the UK Space Agency to establish a space hub on behalf of the Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC).

 

Want to learn more? Read on for the need-to-know November news in spaceflight, space science, and the space industry.

SPACEFLIGHT

SpaceX Crew-1

The first fully operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft safely delivered four astronauts —three NASA and one JAXA— to the International Space Station. The new crewmembers will spend around 6 months in orbit before returning to Earth.

 

Vega Failure

The Vega flight VV17 carrying SEOSat-Ingenio and Taranis from the European Guiana Space Centre failed, resulting in the loss of both satellites. SEOSat-Ingenio would have been Spain’s first optical imagining satellite and TARANIS would have studied momentary phenomena which occur during thunderstorms. This is the second failure in the last three Vega launches, and was due to human error — specifically, incorrectly installed cables in an actuator control system.

 

20 years of humans on the ISS

The International Space Station reached 20 years of continuous human occupation on November 2nd, having hosted 239 astronauts from 19 countries since the first long-term crew, Expedition 1, arrived at the station in 2000.

 

Rocket Lab Return to Sender

Rocket Lab successfully completed the 16th mission of its Electron launch vehicle, deploying 30 small satellites to orbit. The company also recovered the first stage of the Electron for the first time — paving the way towards a reusable launcher.

INDUSTRY

Funding for UK space hubs

The UK government has awarded funding to establish 7 space hubs across the UK, which will draw together local authorities, expertise, and businesses to assess current space capabilities and develop plans to grow the UK’s £15 billion space industry.

AstroAgency, working on behalf of the Scottish Space Leadership Council, will establish the Scottish space hub — read more below!

 

OneWeb emerges from Chapter 11

The broadband satellite constellation company OneWeb has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy following final regulatory approval of its sale to a group of bidders including the UK government. The Indian conglomerate Bharti Global and the British government now each have a 42.2% stake in OneWeb, with other shareholders including SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems. OneWeb plans to launch their next batch of satellites as early as December.

 

Relativity Space raises $500 million

The US launcher company Relativity Space, known for their advances in 3D-printed rocket parts, raised $500 million in a series D funding round. The company plans to use additive manufacturing to revolutionize how launch vehicles are built and is now valued at $2.3 billion.

 

AAC Clyde Space awarded €9.9 million for space as a service

AAC Clyde Space, a CubeSat manufacturer based in Scotland and Sweden, has received UK Space Agency funding for a 3-year project named xSPANCION. The project aims to develop “space as a service” and foster the development of an innovative satellite constellation service, with 10 satellites to be manufactured in Glasgow.

 

ESA supports German launcher startups

The European Space agency has awarded €1.5 million to three German launcher startups: HyImpulse Technologies, Rocket Factory Augsburg, and Isar Aerospace. The funding, €500,000 for each company, will foster the development of European microsatellite launchers and was awarded under the ESA Boost! program.

SPACE SCIENCE

ESA approves Ariel mission

The European Space Agency approved construction of Ariel, the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey mission. Ariel will be the first mission dedicated to measuring the chemical and thermal properties of exoplanets and is slated to be the third ESA exoplanet mission to launch in a ten-year period. The European space industry will soon be asked to make bids to supply components of the Ariel satellite.

 

Sentinel 6 launches

SpaceX launched the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth Observation satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base. This satellite is a collaboration between a host of organisations, including ESA, NASA, and the European Commission, and will provide accurate, long-term observations of sea-level rise.

 

Arecibo Radio Telescope Collapses

The iconic Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has collapsed following successive failures in its supporting cables. The collapse, which occurred on December 1st, followed an announcement that the telescope would be decommissioned and dismantled by the US National Science Foundation. Two of the cables supporting the telescope’s moveable 820-tonne platform snapped in November, rendering the structure unsafe to use or repair. During its 57 years of operations, the Arecibo telescope made many scientific breakthroughs including the measurement of the rotation period of Mercury, the discovery of the first exoplanets, and the discovery of the first binary pulsar.

As well as contributing to space science, the radio telescope was used to send the famous Arecibo message in an attempt to communicate with potential extra-terrestrial life. It was also widely featured in popular culture, notably in the James Bond film GoldenEye.

 

Chang’e 5 Lands on Moon

The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission launched towards the moon, landing on December 1st. The mission aims to accomplish lunar sample return — a first for China. The lander segment of the mission landed near Mons Rümker in the Moon’s Ocean of Storms. The landing site contains some of the youngest geological formations on the Moon — only 1 billion years old, in contrast to the 3-billion-year-old rocks sampled during the Apollo missions. If all goes well, the samples will be launched from the lunar surface for a rendezvous and subsequent return to Earth.

 

Phosphine on Venus?

The heated scientific debate surrounding the recent detection of phosphine on Venus —and its interpretation as a biosignature— continued to evolve following problems with crucial data. Data from ALMA, one of the radio telescopes used to make the original discovery, contained a calibration error and was removed from a public archive by ALMA staff until it could be recalibrated.

This month, the original astronomical team behind the discovery of phosphine published an updated version of their paper, taking into account the recalibrated data. They confirm that they detected phosphine, but at a far lower level than reported in their initial paper.

ASTROAGENCY NEWS

AstroAgency, working on behalf of the Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC), has been awarded a development grant from the UK Space Agency to establish a space hub in Scotland and advance the SSLC into a formalised entity. The ultimate aim of the grant is to connect and promote Scotland’s fast-growing space economy, both nationally and internationally.

SPACE READING LIST

Looking for a deep dive into a space topic? Here are some longer reads suggested by the AstroAgency team.

·      Learn more about space debris, space situational awareness, and debris removal efforts in this article from ROOM.

·      Should we let science or industry pave the way towards other planets in the Solar System? This article highlights the need for a plan to avoid the adverse consequences of planetary exploration.

 

Interested in learning more? Follow AstroAgency’s Space Industry Updates here.

SPACE DEBRIS, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND EARTH OBSERVATION AT THE SPACE, SATELLITES, AND SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE IN GLASGOW

Space debris, climate change, and Earth observation at the Space, Satellites, and Sustainability conference in Glasgow.

SPACE DEBRIS, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND EARTH OBSERVATION AT THE SPACE, SATELLITES, AND SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE IN GLASGOW

Just one month before global leaders descend on Glasgow to discuss climate change at COP26, a group of researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs gathered in Scotland to discuss the pressing challenge of sustainability in space. Tackling everything from space debris to monitoring climate change, the Space, Satellites, and Sustainability conference covered sustainability in space as well as how we can use satellite observations support sustainable development here on Earth. The attendees of the conference reflected this diversity of topics, with speakers from the private sector, academia, and space agencies, as well as Scotland’s home-grown space industry.

 

One of the major themes of the conference was that satellite observations can help us understand our impact on the planet. Speaking on the threat of climate change, Susanne Mecklenburg of the ESA Climate Office described how more than 14,000 scientific papers have led to the International Panel on Climate Change’s recent announcement that “it is unequivocal that humans influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land”. She also explained that weather satellites and other spacecraft constantly scrutinising Earth’s surface are vital components in our efforts to monitor the extent and impact of climate change; of the 54 Essential Climate Variables scientists use to understand our climate, 36 can benefit from space data and 21 are measured by ESA, the European Space Agency. The UK is using this data as part of a pilot scheme to use spacecraft to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire country.

 

Satellites observations also help with sustainability on smaller scales. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh described how satellite observations are helping farmers predict their harvests and measure the carbon footprint —or hoofprint— of their herds. Speakers also discussed the possibility of “death-star-like satellites” – orbiting spacecraft which use powerful —but harmless— lasers to measure tree heights across the entire world’s surface. Satellites can also help preserve Scotland’s wild places, with satellite images helping ecologists map habitats in the Highlands and measure the extent of native woodland on the west coast.

 

As well as discussing sustainability here on Earth, speakers also discussed how space itself can be made more sustainable. With increasing amounts of space debris and ever-more-crowded orbits making spaceflight challenging, figuring out how to operate spacecraft sustainably is an increasingly important area of research. Engineers from Cranfield University discussed how geostationary orbit —home to many communication and weather satellites— could be made more sustainable by recycling derelict satellites. Their ambitious proposal would see a scavenging spacecraft harvest solar panels and other usable components from dead satellites, then using them to repair functioning spacecraft. While this proposal may not get off the ground any time soon, it is a tantalising glimpse what the future of spaceflight may look like.

 

Researchers speaking at the conference also looked to an unlikely source of inspiration for dealing with space debris — nuclear decommissioning.  Though they may not have much in common at first glance, the challenge of taking apart a nuclear power plant shares some similarities with removing space debris. Both tasks involve daunting technical challenges, huge costs, high stakes, and a degree of uncertainty. The two fields even have some technical cross-ever, with specially designed radiation-resistant robots used both in nuclear power plants and in space.

 

The conference even had some discussion of economic sustainability — how Scottish space start-ups can stay in business in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Richard Tipper of Scottish space data start-up Ecometrica warned of the challenges to new companies in Scotland’s growing space economy, as well as offering advice on how to stand out from the crowd.

 

No matter the field or forum, sustainability is an increasingly important part of all activities on Earth. Space, Satellites, and Sustainability highlighted the ways in which space observations help us take the pulse of the planet and make sustainable decisions, as well as shining light on the challenges of sustainably exploring and operating in space. From fledgling space data firms in Edinburgh to rocket manufacturers brewing green rocket fuel, companies and researchers across Scotland —and the world— are rising to these challenges.

 

Want to learn more about space sustainability? Check out the work of the Scottish Space Leadership Council.

 

Article written by Calum Turner, AstroAgency

The National UAE. Scotland plans rocket launch from UK's first space port next year

Scotland is on track to host the UK’s first space port, with its inaugural rocket launch scheduled for next year.

 

Small satellites would be carried into orbit from the Sutherland vertical launch site, aboard the Prime rocket being built by UK start-up company Orbex.

 

The announcement was made at Expo 2020 Dubai’s UK pavilion on Wednesday.

 

The space port in northern Scotland is on Sutherland’s Moine Peninsula and would be the first to start operations. But four additional ones — horizontal and vertical launch sites — are also in development in other parts of the country.

 

Launch sites from Scotland offer access to both polar and sun-synchronous orbits, which are ideal for Earth-observation satellites.

There are some important themes around sustainability. One of the launch providers uses fuel from un-recyclable plastic
Daniel Smith, AstroAgency

 

Daniel Smith, founder of AstroAgency and former co-chairman of the Scottish Space Leadership Council, told The National that Scotland’s first rocket launch is on schedule.

 

“We’ve not reached orbit from Scotland yet, but we plan to next year,” said Mr Smith, who was recently nominated for a Sir Arthur Clarke Award for his services to the UK space sector.

 

“We have many benefits when it comes to launch because of where we are based — you’re not flying over populated areas in Scotland.

 

“So, we’re very lucky in that respect, but it’s about, kind of, capitalising on that situation.”

 

Vertical launches are the kind most people are familiar with. Horizontal launches typically occur from an airport, allowing an aircraft to fly up to a launch location where the rocket will be released from underneath a wing. The rocket then ignites and lifts into space.

Three vertical launch sites are located at Sutherland, Western Isles and Shetland, while horizontal launch pads are in Machrihanish and Prestwick.

 

The efforts fall under Scotland’s new space strategy, which was launched officially on Wednesday at Expo 2020 Dubai’s UK pavilion.

 

It includes achieving a £4 billion share of the global space market and creating 20,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

 

Scottish space industry delegates and speakers outside the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, where they launched Scotland’s new space strategy. Photo: Scottish Development International.

 

The goal is to launch 2,000 small satellites by then to improve science research, telecommunications and internet connectivity in Scotland.

 

“This was a strategy that’s been written by government, industry and academia all together.

“We’ve almost been writing it informally over the last few years and now it’s a chance to put it down on paper and signal our intentions,” Mr Smith said.

 

A key focus of the strategy is to make the space sector as sustainable as possible. One of the space ports is said to be the world’s greenest launch site.

 

“There are some important themes around sustainability. One of the launch providers uses fuel from un-recyclable plastic,” Mr Smith said.

 

“Another launch vehicle is using a bio propellant.

 

“We already have all the benefits from space data that are helping with environment and sustainability.

“We have companies that are tracking climate change and ones that are that are tracking illegal mining, fishing activity and coastal erosion.”

 

The space ports are expected to attract launch companies looking to place small satellites in orbit, particularly Earth-observation satellites.

 

There is a huge market for data collected by Earth-observation satellites and is currently valued at $1.6 billion, but is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2026.

 

“It’s a massive growing market. There are so many uses for space data and such strong demand for satellites to be launched. That’s what we’re really able to offer.”

 

Scotland’s space sector is mostly being driven by start-ups, small and medium-sized companies.

Space businesses have increased by more than 65 per cent since 2016, with the sector proportionately employing more than twice as many people in Scotland as the rest of the UK.

 

“We don’t really have a big space [companies] in Scotland. It’s mostly small and medium sized companies,” Mr Smith said.

 

“In all, we’ve got fast growing ecosystem and lots of new start-ups.”

UK spaceports form historic alliance

A new space sector initiative was agreed this week between Scotland’s Spaceport sites.

 

The Scottish Space Leadership Council has announced the formation of the Spaceports Alliance, a sectoral Working Group which aims to represent the common interests of the UK Spaceport community, to facilitate rapid progress in developing the national infrastructure for, and international promotion of, the country’s space launch capabilities.

 

A concordat has been signed by three vertical rocket launch sites – Shetland Space Centre Space Hub Sutherland, and Spaceport 1, Western Isles – along with two that plan to operate plane based, horizontal launches – Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, and Machrihanish Airbase Community Company, Argyll. Whilst the Alliance currently comprises the Scottish Spaceport sites, dialogue with Spaceport Cornwall is at an advanced stage and the Alliance is keen to include Wales’s Spaceport community as well, to adopt and promote a collaborative UK approach to the development and provision of launch services to the international space market.

It is believed that the group could play a pivotal role in the UK’s move towards orbital launch capability, a key catalyst for driving economic growth in the market. The UK launch sector is key to enabling the burgeoning small satellite industry where Scotland is a market leader, as well as providing the catalyst for growth in other space business areas such as Low Gravity Manufacturing, Orbital Energy Harvesting and Space Tourism.

 

The Alliance will develop a joint position for discussions with Government agencies to facilitate progress on key issues such as regulation and governance, insurance and international collaborations.

 

The Spaceport Alliance is also collaborating to develop a brand to send a common message to the World that Scotland and the UK are open for Space business and poised to lead the way in Europe, through a fully integrated Commercial Space capability from Satellite design and manufacture to Launch, platforms, facilities and management to data and information services. The Alliance seeks to promote and champion the importance of the sector’s green credentials, to highlight alignment and compliance with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee commented:

 

“I am delighted that the spaceports across Scotland have come together under the banner of the Scottish Space Leadership Council to form the Spaceport Alliance in what is an extremely exciting time for the emerging space sector globally.

 

“Our ambition is to capture the substantial economic benefits of the emerging global space sector by ensuring Scotland becomes the first country in Europe to provide an end-to-end solution for small satellite manufacture, launch and innovation in satellite data analysis, including critical earth observation and environmental data.

 

“The space sector in Scotland also has a key role to play in tackling climate change. Having the ability to launch satellites here in Scotland will enable the expansion and enhancement of earth observation and environmental data giving Scotland a real and meaningful contribution to efforts to tackle the climate emergency and enhance the Green Recovery as set out in our Programme for Government.”

 

A recent set of range focused cross-industry workshops provided a practical platform to demonstrate the effectiveness of collaboration in this area at a crucial time for the launch sector, with secondary legislation around spaceflight currently going through a process of consultation as part of the Space Industry Act 2018. The workshops brought together industry and academia from across the UK and have resulted in a series of workstreams aimed at delivering key sectoral themes and observations in response to government consultation around the legislation and a common approach to ensuring the safety of UK launch services.

 

With the UK Space Agency determined to capitalise on the UK’s geographical advantage in respect of its ability to provide small satellite launch to popular, low-earth orbits that are important for monitoring environmental change, the establishment of UK National launch capability is an important element in enabling the country’s rapidly emerging commercial space sector to reach its potential. Affordable, responsive access to orbit is a common issue for the rapidly growing European space market.

 

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO for Project Delivery at the UK Space Agency, stated:

 

“The UK Space Agency and the new Spaceports Alliance are working in lockstep towards a common goal – make the UK the leading destination for space launch in Europe.”

 

“We want each spaceport to provide a range of services that complements those available at other spaceport sites; meeting the myriad demands from companies for satellite launches and sub-orbital flights. Spaceports Alliance will help us realise this ambition and build on our space sector’s proud history of collaboration”, Annett added.

 

The UK has seen its status as a space nation evolve significantly in recent years. The country already produces more small satellites than anywhere in the world outside of the USA through firms like Surrey Satellites (SSTL), Spire Global and AAC Clyde Space, whilst also being home to a vibrant space data environment through the University of Edinburgh and companies such as Global Surface Intelligence, Ecometrica, Astrosat, Goonhilly and 4EarthIntelligence. Moreover, with local launch developers making progress with sustainable propellants, a diverse knowledge base being fostered in its world class universities and the Scottish Space Leadership Council acting to provide UK industry co-ordination and support for a wide range of opportunities and challenges, the country is positioning itself at the forefront of the highly lucrative commercial space market.

 

John Innes, Chair of the Scottish Space Leadership Council said,

 

“the formation of the Spaceport Alliance is a major step forward in the development of a common, collaborative sectoral approach to the development of the UK Space Sector. SSLC has been advocating a collegiate sectoral approach to addressing the broad range of common issues which the sector as a whole needs to solve to enable everyone to grow and secure the significant economic opportunities space can offer to UK industry. SSLC is delighted to sponsor and chair this initiative.”

 

The international race to build launch capability ahead of other global competitors is very much underway. The spaceports alliance is expected to facilitate an inclusive, collaborative approach in order to navigate the sector through the challenges and opportunities posed by the prospect of UK launch. The next official meeting of the new alliance is due to take place during September.

Acting for Sustainable Space

AstroAgency and SSLC champion a sustainable and democratic space sector with Scottish leadership and communities

 

This webinar was held on 23 June 2021 by the Scottish Space Leadership Council

 

As part of the Environmental Task Force assembled by Space Scotland, AstroAgency works closely with Scottish academia, government and business spheres to foster new visions and interest for its rapidly growing space sector.

 

Co-chaired by the University of Edinburgh’s Kristina Tamane and none other than AstroAgency’s founder and creative director, Daniel Smith, the Task Force successfully conducted the “Space Sustainability Challenges” in early 2021.

 

The campaign invited environmental groups, schools, academia, government and the general public to submit environmentally-focused challenges to volunteers from the space sector. Three challenges were chosen to be studied by the volunteers in a series of collaborative workshops to more accurately appraise the sector’s carbon footprint.

 

The results of these working groups were presented on 23 June 2021 to a judging panel during a webinar introduced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and hosted by science broadcaster Dallas Campbell and Dr. Suzie Imber to an online audience exceeding 400 live viewers.

 

Watch the full video:

 

The Role of Space Technology Transfer in a Post COVID-19 Era

Words like bounce-back, rebuild, pivot, restart are being used in articles, webinars and conversation in today’s day-to-day business. Some reports predict the economy is on a slow rebuild post COVID 19, others of a delayed bounce-back as headlines warn us of the worst recession in our lifetime. In the space industry, discussions with industry professionals are highlighting a more optimistic view, referring to nearer-term bounce-back opportunities. The question remains – what does this really mean? What does it mean to the survival of space companies in the short-term, their ability to adapt to a new normal in the medium term and their resilience against future disruptions in the long-term?

 

This article considers technology transfer as a way to build a diversified portfolio, embedding resilience and enabling growth in a post COVID-19 space sector. Building on recent industry discussions including feedback as a guest speaker at the AstroAgency hosted Technology Transfer webinar.  At the end of the article there is a link to a short 1-minute survey to allow us to gather further intelligence and better understand technology transfer activity in the space industry.  We will publish our findings from this survey, providing a snapshot of the current environment and future opportunities or challenges to inform industry and government.

What Bounce-Back Could Look Like

Confidence is the key word here. When confidence in the economy starts to return, so will investment and funding. However, to build confidence companies need to demonstrate their viability and growth. There are two possible approaches:

 

  • Existing: Companies focus on growing their market share and developing their existing products for that market.
  • New: Companies focus on entering new markets with existing offerings, taking their products or services into new applications with existing or new markets, they may even look to develop entirely new products.

 

Not all routes are right for every company, but all need to be considered as part of a strategic review. For those companies looking at the new approach, they should be looking at technology transfer.

Diversified Portfolio

In financial markets, a diversified investment portfolio is one that focusses on a mix of assets to realise the highest return for the least risk. Different assets (stocks, fixed income, commodities etc.) react differently to economic changes, which makes a diversified portfolio more resilient. Even colloquially, people speak about “not putting all their eggs in one basket”.

 

Why are technology companies often singularly focused on products for one market? This is in part linked to the maturity of the company. Start-ups are focused on delivering on their initial investment promises; while established technology companies in mass markets often already serve multiple sectors and applications. Therefore, this question is directed to revenue-generating post-seed, pre-listed, companies.

 

With what we’ve learnt from COVID-19, surely, is that there is a need to build resilience as well as growth potential into businesses earlier on? During a recent webinar, organised during the peak of lockdown by strategic space marketing firm AstroAgency, there was a panel on this subject that had participants excitedly using phrases such a “dual income” and “multiple routes to market”. The concept of finding multiple clients for technology that was developed primarily for space really resonated with that group.

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer is about diversifying your portfolio, spreading your risk, improving opportunities for success. It is about transferring your technology, skills and capability into new markets (industries and geographies) and new applications – often using new business models.

 

Space agencies, including NASA and ESA, have dedicated pro-active technology transfer programmes. However, technology transfer is often referred to as “spill-overs” in the commercial business-to-business context, implying a reactive, accidental, activity. Spill-over value to the public far exceeds the direct £3 to £4 return on every public £1 invested by space agencies in single-purpose technology development.[1].

 

There is no definitive measure of the economic value from space technology transfer, particularly given the intangible elements like skill and knowledge sharing. However, there are studies that indicate the size of the potential impact. For example, NASA estimate that they have generated $1.5bn added value through their life sciences technology transfer[2]. If this is the size of the opportunity created by one public organisation in a single sector, it raises the question – what value could be generated if the commercial space industry did more business-to-business technology transfer?

 

In 2018, MULTIPLY held a number of interviews with UK space companies to get their views on technology transfer. All participants recognized the value, citing revenue growth as a primary driver for them to proactively do technology transfer. Other reasons cited included:

 

  • Demonstrating scalability to raise investment
  • Accessing new geographic regions with new products, which then enables cross-sell back to their original product
  • Brings learnings back into their core offering
  • De-risking the business from disruption by removing reliance on only a few revenue streams
  • Demonstrating innovation and leadership, boosting company and employer brand, building pride amongst employees and improving retention

 

Despite this, a number of barriers (perceived and actual) were also cited:

  • Considered a distraction from core business
  • Do not have the bandwidth to put time into non-core activity
  • Do not have resources to invest into non-core activity
  • Don’t have in-house skills and experience
  • Don’t have access into other markets
  • Considered too early in their growth to diversify
  • Existing investors want them to focus on one core offering

 

At Multiply, we’ve considered technology transfer as a vehicle for resilience and growth for the post COVID-19 space sector, so what could this look like?

What if…?

What if taking a diversified portfolio approach was the new norm? I’d go so far as to say not “if” but “why aren’t we already doing so”? What if technology transfer was considered as core business? What if investors and governments looked at technology transfer value-add as a scored criterion in investment and funding decisions?

 

I am not suggesting this as a silver bullet, nor as the right solution for every company. MULTIPLY’s study in 2018 saw that technology transfer could pose a challenge for those early stage R&D companies that were not sufficiently resourced, securely funded, nor their technology yet proven in their core business. However, those [more established] companies with proven technology, typically with early adopters already buying their products, looking to move into high value or high-volume markets, were well placed to benefit from diversification.

 

An industry that is achieving revenue growth cross-sector, driving export and stimulating private investment, is one that is succeeding. An industry too dependent on public financing or limited customer channels is at risk. To realise sustainable commercial industries, you need to build sustainable commercial companies. With the reality of our vulnerabilities laid bare by COVID-19, resilience and growth need to be at the heart of every company’s strategy. Technology transfer, for many, has a core role to play.

Survey

We’ve considered technology transfer to build a diversified portfolio approach to the post COVID-19 space sector and what this could look like. Now we’d like to get your input to understand your current technology transfer activity and your future technology transfer intentions and appetite.

 

Please follow the link to a short 3 minute survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CCZK7TB. Your input will enable us to present a snapshot of the current environment and make recommendations for the future to both industry and government.

AUTHOR: Natasha Allden, Founder and CEO of MULTIPLY Global Ltd.

 

Natasha built her first company at 21 and went on to build an international track record leading commercial strategy design, marketing propositions, programmes, partnerships and proposition development with companies including EDF Energy, Ageas Insurance, the Bloodhound SSC Programme and Reaction Engines. In 2015 she launched MULTIPLY to help companies unleash their potential of technology to MULTIPLY value.

 

MULTIPLY works with advanced engineering companies, sepcialising in the space sector, to multiply value through business-to-business technology transfer programmes and ventures.

 

Established in 2015 MULTIPLY has developed opportunities in excess of £30m for their clients from public grants, private financing, technology transfer, new markets and collaborations. MULTIPLY defines, designs and delivers strategic propositions through end-to-end customer programmes for clients globally. www.multiply.space

 

[1] Source: https://www.ukspace.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Spillovers-in-the-space-sector_March2019.pdf

[2] Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1020207506064

April Industry News

Latest news on launchers, satellites, science and military sectors.

LAUNCHERS

Launcher to Test Rocket Engine at NASA Stennis – 15th April, 2020

Launcher’s full-scale test fire facility will be built at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, as part of Launcher’s U.S. Air Force SBIR Phase II contract to test-fire Launcher E-2, its 22,000-lbf thrust, 3D printed liquid rocket engine Source


Space Pioneer raises $14 million to develop green liquid rocket engines
– 14th April, 2020

Chinese space propulsion startup Space Pioneer has raised $14 million in funding for completing a series of next-generation liquid engines. The company, established in 2015, will use the funds to develop a 30-ton-thrust HCP liquid engine named Tianhuo-3. It aims to fully develop the engine and take it to the test stand this year. Igniter hot fire tests were performed late last year. Tianhuo series engines use a ‘next-generation’ green, ambient temperature propellant.Landspace Technology Corporation in March succeeded with a 1500-second test of its Tianque-11 10-ton-thrust engines. Landspace claims full-system hot tests of 10 seconds, 100 seconds, 750 seconds, and 1500 seconds were all completely successful. Source 

 

Russia suspends Soyuz rocket production amid coronavirus – 10th April, 2020

The manufacturer of Russia’s workhorse Soyuz-2 rocket said it has paused production to keep factory workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. There was no mention of any impact from the bankruptcy of megaconstellation startup OneWeb, for which Arianespace had completed three of a planned 21 Soyuz launches under a $1.1 billion contract.Arianespace had stressed for the past two years that it had Soyuz rockets ready for OneWeb whenever the startup had satellites available to launch, and had anticipated conducting 10 Soyuz launches for OneWeb this year. Source

 

Rocket Lab executive says company is well positioned to weather crisis – 1st April, 2020

Rocket Lab’s primary launch site in New Zealand is temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. But the small launch provider expects to get back on track later this year and is optimistic about both its launch and small satellite business.The pause in launch operations is giving Rocket Lab time to focus on its satellite business, said Richard French, director of global government launch services at Rocket Lab. “We’re doing detailed design work that was not getting as much attention when we were just focused on operations.”A year ago Rocket Lab unveiled a new line of Photon smallsats based on the kick stage the company uses on its Electron rocket. Source

SATELLITES

Spire and VesselBot focus on vessel tracking and monitoring – 15th April, 2020

Spire Global announced plans to work with VesselBot, a Greek technology company focused on the international maritime industry, to develop products based on Spire’s automatic identification system (AIS) data.

San Francisco-based Spire formed Spire Maritime in 2018 to develop vessel tracking and monitoring services. Spire Maritime is forging partnerships with industry experts like VesselBot and harnessing technologies like machine learning to expand its product line. Source

 

Exolaunch Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Falcon 9 Small Satellite Rideshare Mission – 14th April, 2020

Exolaunch, a German rideshare launch and deployment solutions provider, signed a Launch Services Agreement with SpaceX to launch small satellites on a Falcon 9 as part of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. Source 


Intelsat Seeking Bankruptcy Loan
– 14th April, 2020

Intelsat SA is seeking backers for a bankruptcy loan that would keep the satellite service in business under Chapter 11 court protection while it’s waiting for billions of dollars in proceeds from a government spectrum auction. Its bonds led decliners in the high-yield market.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is shopping the debtor-in-possession loan to institutional investors, many of whom specialize in financial restructuring. Source

 

OneWeb files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – 27th March, 2020

UK based satellite internet startup OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Friday after its largest investor, Softbank, rejected a request for additional funding. The company said it laid off about 85% of its 531 employees prior to filing for bankruptcy.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we have been forced to reduce our workforce and enter the Chapter 11 process while the Company’s remaining employees are focused on responsibly managing our nascent constellation and working with the Court and investors,” OneWeb CEO Adrien Steckel said.

OneWeb’s filing shows $2.1 billion in total liabilities, including $1.7 billion in senior secured financing plus money owed to between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors. The U.K.-based company has raised $3.4 billion, but outside analysts estimated the satellite system would require as much as $7.5 billion to complete. Source 

SCIENCE

NASA’s Curiosity Keeps Rolling As Team Operates Rover From Home – 15th April, 2020

For the first time, NASA’s Curiosity rover’s operations were planned while the team was completely remote. The rover is usually commanded from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the mission is based. Source 

 

NOAA Announces First Series of Awards for Future Observation Technology – 14th April, 2020

NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) announced the first in a series of contract awards to develop mission, spacecraft and instrument concepts for future Earth observation capabilities.

The new concepts NESDIS is considering in this initial round are atmospheric temperature and pressure sounding observations in low earth orbit (LEO) and broader mission approaches for geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and extended orbits (GEO-XO). Source 

MILITARY

Russia Tests Direct-ascent Anti-satellite Missile – 15th April, 2020

U.S. Space Command is aware and tracking Russia’s direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test April 15. Russia’s missile system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) and comes on the heels of Russia’s on-orbit testing the U.S. highlighted in February, namely COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543. These satellites, which behaved similar to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite that would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.  Source 

 

National Security Space Association Seeks Aid During Pandemic – 14th April, 2020

The National Security Space Association (NSSA) is requesting billions of dollars in aid and a raft of policy changes to help its member companies survive the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The recommendations include: more than $2.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to fund programs; government guarantee loans for selected companies to prevent bankruptcies like OneWeb; acceleration of existing satellite programs; and application of “Buy American” domestic content regulations to national security acquisitions. Source

Stellar Growth for AstroAgency

AstroAgency onboarded ten new clients in Q1 2022 alone, despite fraught global landscape

 

This article was published on 14 April 2021 by The Herald

 

AstroAgency continues to cement its place as the leading strategic marketing agency specialising in the global space sector.

 

The agency’s diverse international team, which  counts a strong presence in Ukraine, remained committed to providing excellent and timely results to clients despite adverse conditions.

 

The team added 10 new clients to their roster, including prestigious names the European Space Agency’s UK Business Incubation Centre, the space debris removal company, Astroscale and Science and the Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space.

 

With these new additions, Astroagency continues to champion ethical and  innovative businesses in the interconnected and rapidly growing UK space sector.

 

Founder and creative director, Daniel Smith, celebrated the milestone, saying: “It’s been a rollercoaster start to the year, between the team’s efforts made to deliver on current projects despite the impact on some of our team members due to the invasion of Ukraine, together with a number of long-term target clients being secured.”

 

Read more: Source

Giving space a new face

During the 1950s, the world’s two greatest superpowers were in an all-out race to send humans to the Moon. During this time, political propaganda was just as much a weapon against the opposing nation as the engineering behind the rockets and satellites. Posters, radio shows, and movies were used to encapsulate the unprecedented speed at which their nation was innovating. This time played a significant role in the development of space programs and technologies around the globe. Today, we are experiencing a new space age, but this time it is driven by private companies instead of nations.

THE NEW SPACE RACE

We are at the vanguard of a new era, a turning point in the history of space exploration and development, fueled with the potential of sending humans back to the moon and beyond. New industries are being born that use space in ways we haven’t seen before. From launch to satellites to robotics to data and analytics, young companies are entering an industry previously inaccessible. Privately funded companies and advanced technologies have helped inspire humanity once again about achieving the impossible.

 

The space industry is a complicated landscape, containing a wide variety of public and private sector stakeholders. There’s an ‘alphabet soup’ of regulators, industry bodies, space agencies, grant providers, conference organisers, and enterprise agencies. As well as a growing number of ‘new space’ startups and ‘old space’ primes all competing for attention in a highly lucrative and fast-growing market.

 

In the sea of NewSpace companies entering the market, it can be difficult to stand out. Yet, some companies manage to put themselves on everyone’s radar. So, how do they do it?

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT YOUR COOL PRODUCT

One of the most common issues we see in the space industry is companies that offer innovative products and services are unable to break through and promote their businesses. Why? Because they are not aware of how to do so or because they are unable to track the plethora of exciting opportunities that exist. With the increase in funding and support from many governments worldwide, the space industry is most definitely open for business and is welcoming a whole load of new and exciting companies. There are many opportunities to take part in this growing industry, where well-developed strategies and marketing campaigns will help your company stand out in this active environment.

 

USING YOUR INNER VOICE

The key to a good relationship is communication. This comprises of romantic relationships, friendships, and coworker relationships, but it also includes brand to customer relationships. Think about it, anytime you try to educate, convince, entertain or engage with customers, you are using the voice of your brand to leave an impression. By using a strong and consistent voice, your bold and visionary ideas can be effectively communicated with the world and stronger relationships can be formed. This new era of the space industry comes with a lot of opportunities. We can make use of the lessons learned from the twentieth-century space race and create a brand voice that honors the excitement of your company’s mission to gain leverage in this increasingly crowded landscape.

 

Our team at AstroAgency is here to help the world’s most daring and visionary space entrepreneurs enter the new space market and to give the space industry a new face.

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