A UK space technology company focused on providing Space Domain Awareness (SDA) services based on high-quality optical data from its proprietary global network of optical sensors has won lucrative contracts with UK Space Command and the UK Space Agency.
The contracts have been awarded to London headquartered Spaceflux to provide tracking data about satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) and to build a new, national, ground-based SDA sensor in Cyprus.
The satellite tracking data will be acquired using Spaceflux’s global optical sensor network with 10 unique locations across 5 continents. The data will be used by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and Space Command to monitor various satellites in geostationary orbit and to protect UK space assets from collisions and adversarial actions.
Spaceflux was set up in 2022 with the aim of leveraging their ground-based telescopes, in combination with a unique AI-driven analytics platform, to tackle the problem of space congestion in view of rising satellite deployment.
The company will build, maintain, and routinely operate the commissioned sensor, which will be tasked by UK Space Agency and UK Space Command analysts from the UK Space Operations Centre at RAF High Wycombe.
The sensor, a part of Project Nyx Alpha, will monitor objects in GEO, approximately 36,000km above Earth’s equator, with its primary mission being the provision of information on UK satellites, helping to prevent collisions and protect critical space assets.
The system has also been designed to allow for the sharing of data with partner organisations and international allies, improving the UK’s contribution to strategic space relationships, and increasing opportunities for collaboration in the space domain.
The contract award was announced on stage at the UK Space Conference in Belfast by Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, who stated, “Space Domain Awareness underpins our ability to protect and defend UK and allied interests in space. The UK has critical assets in geostationary orbit, and Project Nyx Alpha will help us to monitor them more closely. It is great to see that UK Space Command and the UK Space Agency are working with some of the most innovative UK space companies to develop our nation’s space capabilities.”
The location and elevation of the sensor site in Cyprus makes the best use of geography available to the UK and allows a better view of the geostationary orbit than sites on the UK mainland.
These procurements will play a key role in helping UK Space Command protect and defend UK interests in space, including SKYNET, the UK’s world-leading family of military communications satellites.
The CEO of the UK Space Agency, Dr Paul Bate, joined Air Vice-marshal Godfrey at the announcement, underlining the joint procurement from UK Space Command and the UK Space Agency. Dr Paul Bate said, “As our reliance on satellites for everyday activity grows and the UK becomes a hub of small satellite design, manufacturing, and launch, we are at the forefront of ensuring a safe and secure space environment. But with more than 8,000 operational satellites and more than 30,000 pieces of trackable debris, the ability to operate safely in space is growing increasingly challenging. Operating a sensor in Cyprus enhances our vital national capability to track objects in space to help avoid collisions and protect the satellites we depend on. This procurement marks a significant development in bringing together the capabilities of both the UK Space Agency and UK Space Command and achieving maximum value for UK taxpayers.”
In addition to awarding these contracts, UK Space Command and the UKSA will launch the National Space Operations Centre (NSPOC) next year.
Both projects will fulfil elements of the National Space Strategy, and the supporting Defence Space Strategy, both of which highlight SDA as a key civil and defence space capability priority.
On the important milestone for Spaceflux, Founder and CEO Dr Marco Rocchetto stated, “Space Domain Awareness is vital for the safety and security of in-orbit assets and is becoming increasingly foundational in space operations. Spaceflux has developed solutions, which guarantee timeliness, reliability, and accuracy of SDA systems. As a company based in London, we’re thrilled and deeply proud to support the Space Agency and UK Space Command in enhancing this sovereign capability, protecting the safety of our national space assets, and promoting a secure and sustainable space environment. These contracts will not only allow us to further advance our technologies, but also contribute to the growth of the UK space ecosystem.”
As part of Spaceflux’s mission to build the most advanced optical sensor network for SDA in the world, the company currently operates 10 satellite tracking ground stations, including Australia, Hawaii and Chile.
The company says it intends to expand to 15 more locations throughout 2024, enabling it to deliver a remarkable increase in daily observations, offering global coverage, unparalleled accuracy, and reliability of data, and ultimately making space a safer place for everyone.