The Government say that the Defence Space Strategy (DSS) outlines how the Ministry of Defence will protect the UK’s national interests in space in “an era of ever-growing threats”.
As part of the new £1.4 billion investment, over the next ten years £968 million will be committed to deliver a multi-satellite system to support greater global surveillance and intelligence for military operations – known as the ISTARI Programme.
“A further £61 million will explore cutting-edge laser communications technology to deliver data from space to Earth at a speed equivalent to superfast broadband. This substantial investment in space defence is on top of the existing £5 billion already upgrading the UK’s Skynet satellite communications capability – providing strategic communication services to the UK Armed Forces and allies.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“It’s crucial we continue to push the frontiers of our defence space ambitions, enhancing our military resilience and strengthening our nation’s security. This significant investment will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of space innovation and one step ahead of our competitors.”
The MINERVA Programme
“An additional £127 million invested over the next four years will develop a network of satellites designed to integrate space with land, air, sea and cyber. An operational concept demonstrator, the new programme “MINERVA”, will present the UK’s ability to autonomously collect, process and disseminate data from UK and allied space assets to support frontline military decision-making. Work has already commenced on the programme and MINERVA will present a developed and tested system in due course, which will be brought together under the established UK Space Command and underpin the £968 million ISTARI Programme.”
“Designed and assembled by In-Space Missions Ltd in Alton, two tiny satellites (30cm x 20cm x 10cm), comparable to the size of a shoebox, will provide a test platform for monitoring through GPS, radio signals and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our combat allies. These satellites will support MOD’s science and technology activities both in orbit and on the ground through the development of ground systems focussed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory site near Portsmouth.”
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston was quoted as saying:
“With this strategy, the Ministry of Defence will protect and promote the United Kingdom’s interests in space, and take a leading role in the coalition of like-minded nations and organisations who have come together to ensure space is there for the benefit of all.”
The Government add that the DSS “reinforces objectives outlined in the 2021 Integrated Review to build resilience, shape the international order of the future; sustain strategic advantage through science and technology; and strengthen security and defence at home and overseas”.