30 Nov 2018

Scottish ‘pint-sized’ satellites launched into orbit

Two ‘first of a kind’ 5kg satellites built in Glasgow and funded by the UK Space Agency have been launched from India.

The satellites, which were designed and built by Spire Global, are unique due to their function, tiny size, low cost and quick build time.

This style of satellite could revolutionise work in space, which has traditionally been slow and expensive for business and science to access.

Both satellites, which were developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ARTES Pioneer programme (the UK is the largest funder to ARTES), will aim to prove the value of ‘nanosats’ in weather monitoring, by using them to measure refracted radio signals passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Experts can use the satellite’s measurements to glean temperature, pressure and humidity information for weather forecasting and climate change monitoring.

The satellites were launched from Sriharikota, India, but from the 2020s, these home-grown spacecraft could be launched from the proposed spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive, UK Space Agency said: “These incredibly clever pint-sized satellites built in Glasgow could slash the complexity and cost of access to space, presenting an exciting opportunity for the UK to thrive in the commercial space age.

“Through our £4m development funding in ESA’s ARTES programme, the government’s Industrial Strategy and by working closely with our international partners, we are helping Scottish businesses transform their ideas into commercial realities, resulting in jobs, growth and innovation.”

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