Scotland Lures Smallsat Builder Spire to Glasgow with Grant

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PARIS — Small-satellite builder Spire of San Francisco has received a grant from the Scottish government to build nano-satellite design and production plant in Glasgow that will create 50 new jobs, the Scottish government announced June 9.

The grant of 1.9 million British pounds ($3 million) was announced in a speech by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a New York investor event.

“This announcement clearly demonstrates Scotland’s growing influence in the space technology industry,” Sturgeon said in a statement published by the government. “With an office in Glasgow, Spire will now have access to a strong base of talented engineers… to develop the next generation of GPS radio occultation technology… [and stimulate] progressive technological advancements in the field of weather data collection for the entire world.”

Spire Chief Executive Peter Platzer said the Scottish plant “enables us to expand our global footprint to attract the skills and talent we need to deliver on the next generation of weather satellites.”

Spire also has offices in Singapore.

The U.K. government in the past five years has sharply increased its space spending, particularly on satellite telecommunications and Earth observation technologies. The increased investment in the European Space Agency means more ESA money returning to the U.K. in the form of contracts, a prospect that has caused several U.S., Canadian and non-British European companies to set up production facilities in the U.K.

Spire plans to develop a constellation of cubesats to perform GPS radio occultation measurements for weather forecasting. In a separate presentation June 9 at the Small Payload Rideshare Symposium in Maryland, a company official said Spire was on schedule to launch its first 20 satellites by the end of this year.

Jeff Foust contributed to this story from Laurel, Maryland.