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CASE STUDY

Transformation in UK satellite based services

A collaboration between the Satellite Applications Catapult and AAC Clyde Space has led to the development of a new miniature satellite (UKube-1).

Increasing the UK small satellite supply chain

AAC Clyde Space provides rapidly manufactured spacecraft, services and solutions, designed with quality and innovation in mind for the Small Satellite market. They specialise in advanced nanosatellite spacecraft, mission services, and reliable subsystems, providing market-leading New Space solutions and services for government, commercial, and educational organisations.  Their extensive commercially focused satellite solution range includes Space as a Service; a complete end-to-end mission service, providing customers everything from constellation design to satellite operations. The partnership between AAC Clyde Space and the Catapult has existed since 2013 a result of the alignment of the Catapult’s strategic goal to increase the UK small satellite supply chain, and AAC Clyde Space’s strategy to become a world-leading supplier of CubeSats. A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite used for a multitude of applications, from space research and exploratory missions to earth observation and communications. 

Satellite pointing at earth from space
Forest fire from the above (space)

One of the Catapult’s flagship innovation support programmes is its In-Orbit Demonstration Programme (IOD).  The IOD programme involves the development and launch of six CubeSats in space, AAC Clyde Space is responsible for the delivery of 5 of these spacecraft.

The Catapult began working with AAC Clyde Space in 2013 and formed part of the consortium that developed UKube-1, the UK Space Agency’s first national spacecraft, which allowed AAC Clyde Space to pivot their business model from being a subsystem component manufacturer to a CubeSat manufacturer and service provider.  The company quadrupled in size over the next three years. The Catapult continued to work with AAC Clyde Space on a number of projects that advanced the development of their capability and facilitated commercialisation of their extended end-to-end missions service.

AAC Clyde Space became a mission delivery supplier for the IOD Programme in 2017.  As such, their role is to design, and build the satellites ready for launch. Mission examples include delivery of a wildfire detection and monitoring system, weather observation, maritime communications to an ocean monitoring mission to collecting biological data from space which will enable greater understanding of the marine food chain, oceanic climate, fisheries, maritime safety and pollution phenomena.

The support of the Catapult over the last few years has directly aided the growth of AAC Clyde Space, which has averaged 60% per annum for the last three years. As a result, Glasgow now produces more satellites than any other European city.

Without the Satellite Applications Catapult, I am certain that the UK would not be in as strong a position for commercial space sector growth as it is today
Craig Clark, MBE, CSO
AAC Clyde Space
60%
company growth per annum in three years
#1
in the world for CubeSats
5x
increase in turnover between 2013 to 2016

Worked towards the UK Space Agency’s first national spacecraft