Press Office
British National Space Centre
London, England

13th December 1999

Science Minister Announces Funding for Small Satellites, Microgravity, Astrobiology and Launchers

A £15M investment in the UK small satellite sector was announced today by Science Minister Lord Sainsbury.

The funding is intended to help transfer the UK’s world-leading capability in small satellites from the academic into the scientific and commercial

Lord Sainsbury said: “I hope this initiative will stimulate industry to invest in small satellite missions, particularly for satellite communications, the largest
and most rapidly expanding market for space products.

He also announced that:

Research into microgravity and astrobiology is to get a £1.4M boost from UK Government.

Welcoming a report from a panel of experts, seeking to establish astrobiology as a new science for the millennium, Lord Sainsbury announced that the
UK is to invest in the research opportunities offered by the European Space Agency’s EMIR-2 programme.

He said: “EMIR-2 will offer our scientists experimental and research opportunities in astrobiology and microgravity”

“UK teams will be able to lead challenging research designed to improve our development and preparation of important new drugs, smart fluids and high
performance sensors”. Their initial results will allow us to evaluate the relevance of the International Space Station to achieving UK priorities”

“We will accelerate our involvement in a new science that will exploit our lead role in the Mars Lander, Beagle 2”.

Lord Sainsbury went on to say that the UK would not enter ESA’s Future Launch Technology Programme (FLTP), preferring instead to press ahead
with more immediate national measures in partnership with UK firms that are already having success exporting to European and International builders of
launch vehicles. He confirmed that the National Space Technology programme would be extended to provide specific opportunities to support innovative
ideas at the equipment and component level, rather than at the vehicle level.

“My decision supports the priorities set out in the UK Space Strategy published in August”, the Minister said. “The Strategy confirmed major
investments in space science, remote sensing, satellite communications, technology and navigation.”

“We gave relatively low priority to launch vehicles. After careful consideration, I have decided that the high costs of FLTP in the longer term would have
an unacceptable effect on other, higher priorities. To enter Phase 1 and then to withdraw later on would have confused our partners in ESA and those
firms seeking a consistent approach from Government in the high priority sectors”.

Notes to Editors

1. The UK has an enviable reputation for supplying low cost and capable micro and mini satellites to the Space agencies and universities
of other governments. These small satellites are particularly effective when flying optical sensors that do not require a lot of electrical
power. They have substantial potential for meeting some of the needs of scientific and commercial users.

2. Collaborative space missions have frequently been large and rather expensive in order to meet the research needs of many partners.
Through the use of small satellites, governments and commerce may launch smaller, lower cost satellites and constellations in response
to market needs for which a space based solution would have previously been too expensive.

3. Scientists and engineers remain uncertain about the eventual value of the International Space Station. By joining EMIR-2, UK teams
will have opportunities to evaluate its importance and to influence public and commercial opinion about its relevance to achieving UK

4. By extending the National Technology Programme to include opportunities for equipment suppliers in the launch sector, he
recognises that many innovative UK firms are already supplying leading edge products into the launch services market that is becoming
more cost conscious and commercially driven.