UK pledges 1.4bn to cutting-edge space defence

UK pledges £1.4bn to cutting-edge space defence

The government has announced it will invest £1.4 billion into cutting-edge technology to deliver new UK satellites to improve communication and identify global threats.

These plans are outlined in the UK’s first ever Defence Space Strategy (DSS), following the publication of the National Space Strategy in September last year.

A statement from the Ministry of Defence said the plans would outline how “Defence will protect the UK’s national interests in space in an era of ever-growing threats, stimulating growth across the sector and supporting highly skilled jobs across the UK.”

As part of the £1.4 billion overall investment, £968 million will be committed to deliver a multi-satellite system to support greater global surveillance and intelligence for military operations – known as the ISTARI Programme.

A further £61 million will be invested into ‘cutting-edge’ laser communications technology to deliver information from space to Earth at a speed equivalent to superfast broadband.

This investment is on top of the existing £5 billion already committed to upgrading the UK’s Skynet satellite communications capability – which provides vital strategic services to the UK Armed Forces and its allies.

Secretary of Defence, Ben Wallace, said of the new investment: “It’s crucial we continue to push the frontiers of our defence space ambitions, enhancing our military resilience and strengthening our nation’s security.

“This significant investment will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of space innovation and one step ahead of our competitors.”

The UK will be working closely with international allies and NATO and will also have a series of supporting projects in addition to the £1.4 billion pledge.

The first additional support project is the MINERVA project, with £127 million being invested over the next four years into the project.

MINERVA will develop a network of satellites designed to integrate space with land, sea, air and cyber which will allow the UK to autonomously collect, process and disseminate data to support frontline military decision-making.

‘PROMETHEUS 2″ is the second supporting project which is two small shoebox-sized satellites which will provide a test platform for monitoring through GPS, radio signals and sophisticated imaging, to give clearer information to the UK military.

This will be overseen by UK Space Command, which was founded in July 2021.

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