News Article | May 8, 2017
The Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine is uniquely designed to scoop up atmospheric air during the early part of its flight to orbit. This slashes the need for the vehicle to carry bulky onboard oxygen for this part of the ascent, before switching to rocket mode drawing on internal propellants for its final climb to space. Such engines have the potential to revolutionise space launches, powering vehicles that can take off and land like aircraft. Capable of airbreathing flight up to five times the speed of sound, they could also lead to hypersonic air travel. UK company Reaction Engines Ltd has been working on the engine for many years, with ESA playing an important technical management role since 2008. Today, ground was broken on the new test facility at Westcott Venture Park in the UK, an historic site for rocket research over the past seven decades. Engines for the Blue Streak and Black Arrow rockets were tested there, for example. "The opening of this new test facility marks an historic moment for the European aerospace industry and for the UK research and development in rocket propulsion," remarked Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality. "This facility enables the ground test of the engine cycle, opening the way to the first test flights, and to a new era. "ESA is proud of this partnership with industry and the UK Space Agency, to which we bring our technical competence, which has supported the development to this stage, and we are confident, to its future flight success." ESA has invested €10 million in SABRE, joining £50 million from the UK Space Agency. ESA independently reviewed the engine's viability in 2010, opening the way to UK government investment. Reaction Engines Ltd has subsequently received private investment from BAE Systems, focused on accelerating development. To allow the engine to use the superfast onrushing airstream as oxidiser, the air must be cooled from 1000°C to –150°C within just a hundredth of second, at the same time avoiding the formation of dangerous ice. In 2012 ESA oversaw testing of the prototype 'precooler' required to cool the air, followed by research and development projects covering other elements such as the novel rocket nozzles, air intake design and thrust chamber cooling. Explore further: ESA commits to next stage of UK revolutionary rocket engine
News Article | May 4, 2017
A 19-year-old physics student from Cardiff University has won the UK Space Agency’s SatelLife Challenge. Chloe Hewitt, originally from Solihull, took the top prize for her idea to use satellite imagery to map disused industrial buildings. The concept could allow local authorities to identify brownfield sites for potential redevelopment, as well provide a better picture of areas that could present a risk to local communities. The competition, intended to support the development of science, data handling and technological skills, was split into three age groups, offering prizes of £5,000 for each age category. Alongside the other winners, Chloe will pitch her idea to a panel of experts at the UK Space Conference, held in Manchester from 30 May – 1 June. The overall winner will receive a prize of £10,000. “It was a really interesting competition,” said Chloe. “I just did it because I thought it would be fun to learn about satellites, I never thought I would win. It was really interesting because you know satellites exist but you don’t realise how much they do. I’m planning to use the money to pay for an internship abroad, so I’m really excited.” Emily Gravestock, head of applications strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “We were really impressed by the number of innovative ideas submitted to the SatelLife Challenge and Chloe is certainly a worthy winner.” “The judges thought her idea was a new way of using existing technologies, which could be very useful. We think Chloe has real potential as a space entrepreneur of the future.”
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-10-2014 | Award Amount: 2.06M | Year: 2015
The Youth for Space Challenge - ODYSSEUS II project aims to inspire young people from all over Europe and to engage them in space exploration, through a series of educational activities, which will combine scientific learning with hands-on experiences. Through the organization of a fun oriented educational contest, which will be organized in multi rounds and which will target all pupils and students in Europe, wherever they are living and irrespective of their cultural background and the language they speak, the project will foster the development of qualified scientists, engineers and technicians in areas relevant to the priorities of the EU space policy. Besides the objective of providing the Space challenge to young people, the Odysseus II project will also strive to foster international collaboration and to attract attention to the field of science education related to space exploration. In this respect, the objective of the project is to involve national educational authorities and to engage with space industries and many science centres and space agencies across Europe on the exchange of experiences and knowledge on learning programmes about space exploration. Participation in the Odysseus II contest will be used as a good benchmark and indicator of how well space science and technology is accepted and integrated into the curriculum of different educational systems across the EU. Since educational competitions in general enjoy broader acceptance, the Odysseus II contest will also provide the opportunity to space industry and national educational authorities to show their support to educational activities related to space.
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 430.42K | Year: 2012
The key challenges facing research, development and deployment of autonomous systems require principled solutions in order for scalable systems to become viable. This proposal intertwines probabilistic (Bayesian) inference, model-predictive control, distributed information networks, human-in-the-loop and multi-agent systems to an unprecedented degree. The project focuses on the principled handling of uncertainty for distributed modelling in complex environments which are highly dynamic, communication poor, observation costly and time-sensitive. We aim to develop robust, stable, computationally practical and principled approaches which naturally accommodate these real-world challenges. Our proposed framework will enable significant progress to be made in a large number of areas essential to intelligent autonomous systems, including 1) the assessment of reliability and fusion of disparate sources of data, 2) allow active data selection based on Bayesian sequential decision making under realistic time, information & computation constraints, 3) allow the advancement of Bayesian reinforcement algorithms in complex systems, and 4) extend Model predictive control (MPC) to probabilistic settings using Gaussian process non-parametric models. At the systems level, these developments will permit the design of overarching methods for 1) controlled autonomous systems which interact and collaborate, 2) integration of sensing, inference, decision making and learning in acting systems and 3) design methods for validation and verification of systems to enhance robustness and safety. The ability to meet these objectives depends on a multitude of recent technical developments. These include, 1) development of practical non-parametric algorithms for on-line learning and adaptation 2) approximate inference for Bayesian sequential decision making under constraints, 3) the development of sparse data selection and sparse representation methods for practical handling of large data sets with complex decentralised systems and 4) the implementation of and deployment on powerful modern parallel architectures such as GPUs. We aim to build on our expertise in Bayesian machine learning, multi-agent systems and control theory and by drawing together closely related developments in these complementary fields we will be able to make substantial improvements to the way artificial agents are able to learn and act, combine and select data sources intelligently, and integrate in robust ways into complex environments with multiple agents and humans in the loop.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Harwell Campus SWINDON, 27-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — A major new £100 million investment by the government into the development of an innovative multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre was announced today (Thursday 23 February 2017) by Business Secretary Greg Clark. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) – named in honour of the pioneering British scientist whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA‘s ‘double helix’ structure by Francis Crick and James Watson – will bring together UK strengths in the physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to create a national centre of excellence in technology development and innovation. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute will have a hub based at the Harwell campus It will bring together UK expertise to develop new technologies that will transform our understanding of disease and speed up the development of new treatments Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy to maintain the UK’s global leadership in science, innovation and research Business Secretary Greg Clark said: The UK has always been a pioneer in the world of science, technology and medical research. It’s this excellence we want to continue to build on and why we made science and research a central part of our Industrial Strategy – strengthening links between research and industry, ensuring more home-grown innovation continues to benefit millions around the world. Named after one of the UK’s leading chemists, the new Rosalind Franklin Institute will inspire and house scientists who could be responsible for the next great discovery that will maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global science for years to come. Delivered and managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the RFI will bring together academic and industry researchers from across the UK to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences, accelerate the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world (such as dementia), and deliver new jobs and long-term growth to the local and UK economies. Chair of the Research Councils and EPSRC Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson said: The UK is currently in a world leading position when it comes to developing new medical treatments and technologies in the life sciences. However, other countries are alive to the potential and are already investing heavily. The Rosalind Franklin Institute will help secure the country as one of the best places in the world to research, discover, and innovate. The central hub at Harwell will link to partner sites at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Oxford, Imperial College, King’s College London, and University College London. Industry partners will be on board from the outset, and the Institute will grow over time, as more universities and researchers participate. The work at new Institute will contribute directly to the delivery of EPSRC‘s ‘Healthy Nation’ prosperity outcome, its Healthcare Technologies programme, and to the Technology Touching Life initiative that spans three research councils (the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and EPSRC) and seeks to foster interdisciplinary technology development research across the engineering, physical and life sciences. The development of the RFI has been led by Professor Ian Walmsley, FRS, from the University of Oxford, who said: This is a new joint venture between some of the UK’s leading universities and key partners in industry and research councils. The aim is to speed the application of cutting-edge physical science insights, methods and techniques to health and life sciences by providing an interface between research programmes at the forefront of these areas, co-located at Harwell and connected, dynamically, to the wider UK research base. We anticipate innovative new businesses will grow from this effort over time, as the Institute will engage with a range of key industries from inception. A collaborative joint venture model allows the RFI to make the most of interactions and draw on a wide range of existing research excellence from across the UK. Patrick Vallance, President of R&D at GSK said: We welcome the creation of the RFI which will bring world-leading, multi-disciplinary teams from industry and academia closer together, and will further strengthen the UK as a place to translate excellent science into patient benefit. Through collaboration we will be able to make advances in life science technologies much quicker than we could manage alone. Research at the RFI will initially be centred on five selected technology themes, focusing on next-generation imaging technologies – X-ray science, correlated imaging (combining X-ray, electron and light microscopy), imaging by sound and light, and biological mass spectrometry – and on new chemical methods and strategies for drug discovery. Dame Carol Robinson, FRS, who is leading the RFI‘s biological mass spectrometry theme, and received the 2004 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award that recognises outstanding scientific contributions and supports the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said: It is fitting that this new Institute bears Rosalind Franklin’s name. She achieved so much in a relatively short life and without her work many of the advances that have taken place since would not have come about. Work in the Institute will include development of the next-generation of physical tools including mass spectrometry, instruments for X-ray science and for advanced microscopy – fields directly descended from her research interests. Notes for Editors: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) STFC is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar. STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested £473M in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes. The Medical Research Council (MRC) The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk Diamond Light Source Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron science facility, and is approximately the size of Wembley Stadium. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines. Diamond is used by thousands of academic and industrial researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including structural biology, health and medicine, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, earth & environmental sciences, chemistry, cultural heritage, energy and engineering. Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer products, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light. These are of exceptional quality, and range from X-rays to ultraviolet to infrared. Diamond’s X-rays are around 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. 2017 marks a double celebration for Diamond – 15 years since the company was formed, and 10 years of research and innovation. In this time, researchers who have obtained their data at Diamond have authored over 5,000 papers. The institute is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust The Harwell Campus Harwell Campus is a public private partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners, U+I Group PLC and two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA). Harwell is one of the world’s most important science and innovation locations. It has a growing reputation as the UK’s gateway to space with over 65 space and satellite applications related organisations located on campus and is now seeing rapid growth in the Life Sciences and HealthTec sector with over 1,000 people working in this field alone at Harwell. In addition to space and life sciences, the campus hosts an array of other key sectors including, Big Data and Supercomputing, Energy and Environment and Advanced Engineering and Materials. With a legacy of many world firsts, the campus comprises 710 acres, over 200 organisations and 5,500 people. Harwell Campus is the UK’s National Science Facility and is among Europe and the world’s leading sites dedicated to the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Having spent 75 years at the forefront of British innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and centred around a community hub. Science experts, academics, government organisations, private sector R&D departments and investors create an environment where innovation, collaboration and discovery thrive. Harwell’s Cluster Strategy The Cluster of about 70 Space organisations at Harwell is testament to the power of co-locating industry, academia and the public sector alongside investors and entrepreneurs. The European Space Agency, RAL Space, The UK Space Agency, Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, Lockheed Martin, and Deimos Space UK can all be found on the Campus. This creates many opportunities for collaboration, increasing capability and sharing risk. Being within a Cluster brings access to high-quality common infrastructure, facilities and expertise, alongside exposure to new markets The Harwell vision is to be home to a number of Clusters that exploit the existing strengths of the Campus. The next step is a new HealthTec Cluster that will benefit from the considerable synergies across the life and physical sciences capabilities of the Campus and the Space cluster. These clusters will enrich each other, creating a powerful multidisciplinary environment tailored to problem solving that will allow the UK to compete with the best in the world. The clustering of industries, facilities and science experts has given rise to the term Harwell Effect – and is an ideal model for future science and business innovation programmes. Science clusters drive economic growth. MIT has created businesses with a combined value of $3tn, the equivalent of California’s GDP. Harwell Campus is the only location in the UK with the potential to emulate this success. To find out more about events, open days or the new developments, visit the Harwell Campus website. SOURCE: EPSRC Contact Details In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column. Name: EPSRC Press Office Telephone: 01793 444404
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-03-2014 | Award Amount: 3.50M | Year: 2014
EPIC proposes a Programme Support Activity which will produce a clear integrated roadmap & masterplan for its implementation through a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) on In-space Electrical Propulsion & Station-Keeping. EPIC plans to do a survey of the current worldwide Electric Propulsion (& related) technologies & their TRL. A collection of requirements from all stakeholders will be done, also assessing potential future missions. Both tasks will build on the 2014 EP Harmonisation & the consultation will be expanded to all EU actors. This will allow to focus efforts on the SRC roadmap specific goals. Based on this work, a critical gap analysis of technologies & needs will be done, to create the basis for selection of candidate SRC developments, oriented to satisfy short-term (incremental advances) & medium/long term (disruptive) needs. Then the prioritisation will be the driver & challenge, leading to the selection of activities for an SRC roadmap & masterplan for its implementation, aiming at a validation flight in 2023 & to contribute to European leadership in EP technologies. EPIC will provide a solid & widely consulted advice to the EC on the call texts for operational grants & continuous support to EC/REA to maximise the SRC success. EPIC will analyse the SRC progress, evaluate its risks & put a mitigation plan in place, including the Collaboration Agreement. The EPIC consortium will disseminate its progress & results, & intends to contribute to the SRC results dissemination not only with an exploitation plan but also by exercising a close coordination with all operational grants. EPIC is coordinated by ESA & complemented by renowned National Agencies: ASI, BELSPO, CDTI, CNES, DLR & UKSA, & by the major European space industrial associations, Eurospace & SME4Space. This teaming of beneficiaries brings together the multidisciplinary mix of expertise required to deliver an unbiased, rational strategic roadmap & masterplan for EP developments in H2020.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-04-2014 | Award Amount: 3.53M | Year: 2014
The project PER ASPERA (ASTRA) (Latin meaning Through hardships to the stars) aims at developing an integrated master plan (a.k.a. roadmap) of activities and associated activity descriptions, for a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) in Space Robotics Technology. The roadmap will be implemented within a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) through operational grants, which will be recommended by PERASPERA and issued by the European Commission. PERASPERA will plan and accompany the SRC to attain its overall objective to deliver, within the 2023/2024 framework, key enabling technologies and demonstrate autonomous robotic systems at a significant scale as key elements for on-orbit satellite servicing and planetary exploration. The main deliverables of the PERASPERA project will be:  a thoroughly coordinated/harmonised roadmap of space robotics technologies, concept development and demonstration activities. The coordination/harmonisation relies in the pre-existing network of the partners, complemented by new measures implemented by PERASPERA  draft text for the calls (and related technical annexes) that will allow tightly coupled developments across different operational grants  a Plan for the analysis and evaluation of the results of the SRC, that will be enacted by the PSA across its duration  a Plan for the specific exploitation and potential use of the SRC expected outputs that will also consider spin-out  a plan for risk assessment and contingency analysis  wide-reaching dissemination and outreach actions to communicate to the public and educate the young engineers that will make space robotics become mainstream
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SPACE | Award Amount: 9.02M | Year: 2016
This 3SST2015 project is aimed at supporting the emergence of a European SST service built on a network of existing SST assets, notably sensors (radar, laser and telescopes) owned by SST Consortium Member States. This will require the commitment of Consortium Member States owing relevant assets to cooperate and provide an anti-collision, fragmentation and re-entry service at European level in order to increase the autonomy of Europe concerning the operational objectives derived from the SST decision, which will be partially fulfilled by the operation of the initial European SST system. Given that this system is mainly based on national systems, at the initial stage many of the activities will be based at national level. At the same time, and in order to achieve the convergence within a joint action that will allow the minimum desirable level of performance, an appropriate degree of coordination between SST Consortium Member States is needed. The project is following a shared working approach between the key players within the field of SST in Europe. Following the guidelines given by the implementing decision of the European Commission (C(2014)6342 final of the 12.09.2014), the backbone of the planned activity is formed by a set of SST committees forming the decision platform of the SST Consortium, composed of the five designated national entities in cooperation mechanisms with the EU SatCen. Three Committees are foreseen for the governing structure of the SST Consortium: the Steering Committee as the decision platform, the Technical Committee as the professional motor and to the Security Committee dealing with bi- and multilateral aspects of security constraints and issues. The main activities are addressed in terms of: Performance assessment and architecture of SST, an SST Action Plan and the Priority upgrading of existing sensors owned by the Member States member of the SST consortium.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SPACE | Award Amount: 3.20M | Year: 2016
The main objectives of 2SST2015 are the initial networking of SST assets and preparation of the establishment of a European SST Service provision function. The project is the first of a series in the upcoming years and has to be seen in context with two parallel projects for initial service provision and for SST roadmapping and infrastructure.
News Article | February 21, 2017
A proposed law in the UK could allow British scientists to go to space to conduct medical experiments in zero gravity, potentially leading to the development of better medicines and vaccines. The UK Space Agency said that the new regulations embodied in the bill and funding could lead to the construction of Britain's first spaceport by the year 2020. Building spaceports would allow the country to launch its own satellites as well as allow British scientists to fly to the edge of space to perform medical studies and experiments. The experiments could include those that would investigate the human body and medical issues such as aging in zero gravity. In a statement, the UK Space Agency said that the laws that would pave way for the construction of spaceports will allow scientists to conduct experiments that could help develop medicines such as vaccines and antibiotics in zero gravity. "The move has the potential to take UK scientists up to space so they can research and develop vaccines and antibiotics, which grow differently where there is no gravity. The flights could also carry out hundreds of vital scientific experiments on medical issues such as aging and the human body," the UK Space Agency said in a statement. The proposed Spaceflight Bill was announced earlier this February by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The opportunity to conduct medical studies in space will not only benefit UK scientists. It also has worldwide implications as this could lead to the development of drugs and vaccines that can treat or prevent the spread of deadly and incurable diseases and infections. The need to develop new medicines has already prompted earlier experiments in space that take advantage of microgravity to better understand diseases. NASA, for instance, is conducting studies at the International Space Station to look more closely at methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and learn how the pathogen behaves in microgravity. MRSA is resistant to most of the commonly available antibiotics. The space agency hopes that the study can help researchers come up with measures to reduce risk of MRSA infection as well as to develop vaccines against potentially fatal superbugs. Scientists have also conducted experiments aboard the ISS to determine how the microgravity environment in space affects drugs. It is hoped that the results of the space studies will contribute to the development of new and better medicines. Researchers have sent strains of Aspergillus nidulans to the ISS, hoping that the extreme environment at the orbiting laboratory could stress the fungi to the extent these would develop characteristics that have not been observed under normal and more favorable conditions on Earth. Fungi are known to make useful medicines when they are stressed out. "We've done extensive genetic analysis of this fungus and found that it could potentially produce 40 different types of drugs," said Clay Wang, from the University of Southern California. "The organism is known to produce osteoporosis drugs, which is very important from an astronaut's perspective because we know that in space travel, astronauts experience bone loss." © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.