20 February 2024

Space and technology projects for potential UK Space Agency mission

Up to £15mln of funding could be available for British science and technology to fly to space, should a proposed mission proceed.

The International Space Station © NASA

Two funding calls for demonstrators in either science or technology are now open, ahead of an agreement to fly a team of four British astronauts on a commercial mission, possibly to the International Space Station.

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the UK Space Agency and Axiom Space in October 2023, which outlines plans to pursue a commercially-sponsored UK astronaut mission, and an initial request for ideas for science and technology.

While commercial funding is needed for the mission with Axiom Space to go ahead, the UK Space Agency is asking scientists, innovators and businesses to submit proposals now to maximise mission benefits.

Science experiments are to support UK-based researchers to design and execute scientific research which uses microgravity and the space environment.

While proposals are said to be allowed from any research area, they will be encouraged from those that align to the goals of the National Space Strategy, UK Science and Technology Framework, and research priorities identified by UK Research and Innovation.

The UK Space Agency is interested in artificial intelligence, engineering biology, future telecommunications, semiconductors and quantum technologies, as well as those that align with their Space exploration technology roadmap categories.

UK astronaut Tim Peake says, 'The recent Ax-3 mission set a new bar for what commercial human spaceflight can achieve, with important science carried out by the four European astronauts over the course of the more than two-week flight, from research into cancer prevention to studies of plasma physics and botany.'