National Physical Laboratory

50 years of the UK in space

Thursday 26 April 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Ariel-1, the first satellite developed and operated by the United Kingdom. The UK Space Agency has announced a year of events to coincide with this anniversary, beginning with a two day conference to celebrate 50 years of the UK in space, co-hosted by the Science Museum.

Image courtesy of the UK Space Agency
Image courtesy of the UK Space Agency

Today the UK space sector is worth £7.5 billion and supports over 60,000 jobs across a variety of industries. NPL works to support this sector and is currently involved in numerous projects with organisations including the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, as well as private companies such as Astrium and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

NPL was recently awarded a role in four projects as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Space for Growth Call, designed to help boost the UK's space sector and stimulate innovation. These projects range from developing a new nanotube coating for space applications to providing accurate timing signals for navigation.

NPL also has a role in providing time for Europe's answer to GPS – the Galileo global navigation satellite system - and has proposed the TRUTHS satellite mission to provide key scientific data with unprecedented accuracy for Earth Observation and climate change studies.

Hopefully, the future will prove to be as innovative and inspirational as the last 50 years and NPL will continue to play its part in the further development of the UK space industry.

Further examples of NPL's work with the space sector:

For more information, please contact Robert Elliott

Last Updated: 26 Apr 2012
Created: 26 Apr 2012