Space entrepreneurs to oversee British satellite launches from the sofa

To make its part of the Harwell facility attractive to space start-ups, Lockheed Martin’s UK space division will be offering remote access to satellite telemetry – data gathered from in-orbit satellites and beamed back to Earth.

Connections to the mission control suite are made over a virtual private network (VPN), Mr Skirrow explained. This allows secure remote connections to be made to computer servers from anywhere in the world, protecting commercially sensitive data from unauthorized access.

Nik Smith, director of Lockheed’s UK space division, added: “This idea of ​​being able to collaborate in an area like this, as part of a mission operations center, becomes incredibly important.”

The Harwell site’s facilities are focused on “cubesats”, smaller craft whose lower cost makes them suitable for companies hoping to test out new technology.

Britain has not launched a homegrown space rocket since the early 1970s, when Ted Heath’s government canceled the Black Arrow project. Just one UK satellite was launched atop a UK rocket, from a base in Woomera, Australia.

There are currently seven planned space launch sites across the UK, ranging from Newquay Airport in Cornwall where Virgin Orbit is based with a modified Boeing 747, to Saxa Vord, home to an RAF radar station on the most northern of the Shetland Islands.

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