The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have awarded a £9.5 million contract to In-Space Missions Ltd for the build of the Titania satellite, which will undertake research on the next-generation of communications technology, according to a news release.

To be launched in 2023 and approximately the size of a washing machine, the satellite will support the ‘Titania Operational Concept Demonstrator’ which is exploring the military utility of Low Earth Orbit direct-to-earth free-space optical communications (FSOC).

Dstl say:

“As modern battlespace technology requires increasingly high bandwidth, FSOC has the potential to transform military communications with its ability to transfer large volumes of data, with a low risk of detection or interception.

The technology works by transmitting the data at high speeds via narrow laser beam between two very specific points. In this case Titania will communicate with ‘Puck’, Dstl’s new Optical Ground Station – carrying on the tradition of the UK naming space projects and satellites after Shakespearian characters.”

Dstl’s space programme manager, Dr Mike O’Callaghan was quoted as saying:

“The Titania space mission will accelerate the development and adoption of space-based optical communications, allowing our Armed Forces the ability to operate in an increasingly contested environment.

The Titania satellite will support the UK space sector and provide a solid foundation on which to conduct experimentation into FSOC and allow the science to be developed. We are delighted to be working with In-Space Missions on this highly innovative project.”

You can read more here.

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Rob
Rob
2 months ago

That is one expensive washing machine.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
2 months ago

Will this be launched from Britain? I hear reports of a British launch site on a Scottish island are under consideration?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Not to mention the horizontal take off and landing space port at Newquay which was due to start operating this year but COVID has delayed things somewhat. It is being developed by Cornwall County Council, Virgin Orbit and Goonhilly Earth Station.

Cheers CR

CAM
CAM
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Well Space Hub Sutherland (in the Highlands of Scotland) is planned to be Britain’s first Spaceport with the first rocket scheduled to be launched in 2022. I am aware that they are also considering a launch site on the Isle of North Uist but it has been very controversial so I’m not sure what the latest is there.
… I did find this though
https://airspacechange.caa.co.uk/PublicProposalArea?pID=344

Pete
Pete
2 months ago
Reply to  CAM

Be interesting to see what the wind speed envelope for the relatively small rockets will be. All three launch sites highlighted by posters, but especially both the North Uist and the Unst (shetland) launch sites, will have pretty high prevailing wind speeds throughout the year (there’s a reason you generally don’t have trees growing in Shetland!)

CAM
CAM
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

Well Shetland is not as windy as you might expect but for launches the wind has to obviously be ‘perfect.’
… So I think the main reason for the lack of trees is how rocky it is on the islands.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  CAM

Been to Shetlands with work often enough Cam , albeit a few years ago now. Can never remember it not being windy when I was there. Dug around and found the following. Apart from the top of the scottish mountains, shetland has pretty much the highest average winds in the uk all year round…average 20 knots !

https://images.app.goo.gl/A13N9mGEQjypjtPU7

CAM
CAM
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

Didn’t realize that. I go to the western isles every year but yes, lack of trees is quite noticeable compared to the mainland!

dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Doubt it since it will require a tried and tested launch vehicle with a proven track record. That is unless one of the current rockets operating now is launched from the UK.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

Electron will be launching from Sunderland. So yes.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Two are in fact, Space Port Sunderland, and a Spaceport in Shetland. The issue will be which orbit they want to go for, and just how large this satellite will be, because the current rockets that’ll fly out of the UK are rather small, and most of the launch sites in the UK will be ideal for SSO orbits.

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I think you mean Spaceport Sutherland, in the highlands of Scotland rather than the city in the NorthEast of England.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Got it in one.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  Sean

News reaching the Kremlin that Sunderland was about to be let loose in outer space would frighten the life out of them

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Nah, all the Kremlin would have to do is remind them that their football club is in the third tier while the Toon is in the premiership and the Mackems will just break down in floods of tears…

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

The Barman in my local builds satellites as his other job (weird but true): they are to launched from Scotland and from Edwards at various points in time.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

So Titania in 2023, followed by Oberon by 2026, and the rest of the Fairies … whenever.

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

What’s the betting it hits an iceberg?

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago
Reply to  Cymbeline

Nothing would surprise me to be honest.

James H
James H
2 months ago

Great news! Anyone know where tye Shakespeare link has come from?

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  James H

A Midsummers Night’s Dream?

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

In unrelated news. The US is trying to pressure Argentina into buying Western jet aircraft (possible retired USAF F16s) rather that the JF17s they’ve been offered by China, according to Janes news.

Whiteblade
Whiteblade
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Well, from Argentina’s perspective that depends on which block. Obviously the F-16 is a lot older than the JF-17. Does anyone think China will be willing to provide weapons as well (and would Argentina be willing to spend money on that) or would the Argentinians be stuck with outdated missiles?

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Whiteblade

Argentina is financially in a far worse place than Greece. So I am wondering how they are going to pay for the aircraft, even if they are the original F16 model As, rather than the later Cs, let alone the Viper version. China has a past record of helping Countries out financially, but it comes with a double whammy, usually preferential building or mining contracts. Though some have started to include military basing. The JF-17 would be a significant improvement in their Airforces capability. It still is miles behind a Typhoon, but they are relatively cheap, so they could get… Read more »

Whiteblade
Whiteblade
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Right now, China gives loans sort of like a loan shark would. When a country is, usually inevitably, unable to pay the high interest rate, they demand access to resources, ownership of state companies, more infrastructure projects etc.

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Whiteblade

And the odd stategic port…

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  David

That’s what I’d bet money on.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Fishing rights will be the goal and a South Atlantic Port to operate from.
The Argentinian Navy recently got some Gotwind based OPVs from France. Comparable capability to the RN FI patrol boat…flight deck and a 30mm gun.

Whiteblade
Whiteblade
2 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

China has already spoken up about the Falklands, if they start having business relations as well we could see a more aggressive and confident Argentina, no?

Pete
Pete
2 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Fishing, oil rights and you can probably also add access to quality beef and wine given PRCs growing embargo on all things Australian. Argentina is also corporate home to Tenaris….the world’s biggest producer of ‘premium’ oilfield downhole pipes (OCTG) many ultra high strength grades of which are captured under various trade embargo restrictions given their high specifications and potential for military use.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

America will no doubt want to actually be paid in currency which wont favour Argentina, China however has many ways of skinning a cat and im sure will offer a deal they cant refuse.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Whiteblade

The deal will invariably be something similar to what was thought they offered Russia for old jets previously, resources and food supplies as opposed to outright cash.

However China has interesting ways of doing deals worldwide so it be worth keeping an eye on. Pieces of land may start being owned by various chinese companies for example very quickly.

DJ
DJ
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I’m guessing CCP would do a cheap/giveaway deal for the JF-17, in exchange for military basing and/or mineral rights.
If nothing else, it would make the Falklands more of an issue than at present.

expat
expat
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I’d prefer Argentina bought jets from nations we could pressure if required. As others have highlighted a deal with China could complicate matters and we couldn’t pressure them to withhold weapons or spares if things went the wrong way.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago

bloody hell looking through the comments there’s seems to be a lot of launches going on in the next 10 years. can someone fill me up on all the current plans for space ops.

cheers, Drew.

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago

Satcoms isn’t particularly sexy but they have been handy in the past. I can only assume capability (ie number of multiple users etc) will vastly improve. Interested in the ‘pinpoint’ aspect of this too, one of the possible downsides was the fairly wide transmit which could potentially be pinged by another satellite.

Anyhoo, ‘sexy’, where are we with the Argies and goddamn commies ?????

expat
expat
2 months ago

So how does this work on cloudy days, its not like we have the most reliable weather and I was of the understanding that laser light disperses quickly when water vapour is present.

Last edited 2 months ago by expat
Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago

As modern battlespace technology requires increasingly high bandwidth, FSOC has the potential to transform military communications with its ability to transfer large volumes of data, with a low risk of detection or interception.

Essential for the future projection of drones to undertake long duration patrols currently performed by personnel.