US, UK Hope to Streamline Future Spaceflight Endeavors in Landmark Commercial Partnership
04:11 GMT 13.05.2022 (Updated: 04:17 GMT 13.05.2022)
© Twitter/Grant ShappsGrant Shapps, Twitter || I've signed a landmark partnership with my US counterpart @SecretaryPete in #Washington to make licensing UK-US spaceflights easier & cheaper 🇬🇧🇺🇸 Our space industry is boosting our economy with high-skilled jobs as we prepare for first #LiftOff from UK soil this summer 🚀
© Twitter/Grant Shapps
The bilateral commercial spaceflight partnership comes ahead of the first satellite launch from the UK this summer. The space mission is expected to provide the MoD with an understanding of how the UK and its international partners can create a more capable, flexible, and cost-effective communication system.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and counterpart Grant Shapps, the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, have inked a landmark partnership agreeing to assist one another in future spaceflight endeavors.
Officials are hopeful that the joint effort will help produce cost-effective spaceflight operations, as well as streamline the entire process.
“The move will cut down red tape and the regulatory burden to operators resulting in greater efficiencies and a reduction in costs, resources and duplication while maintaining stringent safety standards,” per the memo.
The US-UK counterparts signed the agreement on May 11, and formally announced the partnership via news release on May 13.
“Commercial space travel is growing swiftly and it’s our responsibility to ensure that these innovations advance safely, encouraging them to develop in ways that benefit us all,” Buttigieg said in a quoted statement published by the UK.
Shapps also touted the positive impact of the “transformational partnership,” highlighting that the UK is already developing seven spaceports across the country, “injecting billions into our economy while offering high-skilled jobs.”
“As we look beyond the UK’s first planned spaceflight later this year, I look forward to seeing the innovations and opportunities skyrocket thanks to this collaboration,” said the UK Secretary of State for Transport, referring to the upcoming Prometheus-2 mission from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, England.
UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps
Prometheus-2, a collaboration between the UK and international partners such as the US National Reconnaissance Office, seeks to deliver two Cubesats to low Earth orbit (around 550 kilometers [342 miles] above the Earth) via Virgin Orbit’s two-stage orbital launch vehicle, LauncherOne.
The LauncherOne vehicle will be assisted by a modified Boeing 747 jet dubbed Cosmic Girl.
© AP Photo / Matt HartmanIn this Jan. 17, 2021, file photo, Virgin Orbit Boeing 747-400 rocket launch platform takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave (MHV) on its second orbital launch demonstration of LauncherOne rocket in the Mojave Desert, north of Los Angeles.
In this Jan. 17, 2021, file photo, Virgin Orbit Boeing 747-400 rocket launch platform takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave (MHV) on its second orbital launch demonstration of LauncherOne rocket in the Mojave Desert, north of Los Angeles.
© AP Photo / Matt Hartman
It was revealed earlier this week that Cubesat 1 is set to include a laser detector, GPS receiver, and hyperspectral imager, allowing the miniature satellite to potentially find nearby objects or identify materials.
“The hyperspectral imager will capture multiple slivers of pictures over different wavelengths of light for higher definition images,” detailed the UK MoD in a May 10 memo on the summer launch. “The GPS receiver confirms the precise time and position of the satellite over the area of the Earth to be photographed.”
As for Cubesat 2, the miniaturized satellite is equipped with two optical imaging cameras, a laser range finder, and a GPS receiver. One of its cameras will reportedly be fitted with a wide-angle lens to provide a 180-degree view of Earth’s surface, while the other camera will observe Cubesat 1, providing support for space situational awareness.