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Trio of Cornish companies secures funding of £148,000 for crucial space flight development
November 26, 2018 - A partnership of three Cornish
companies has secured funding of £148,000 to develop state-of-the-art technology to enable
faster and more accurate communication with satellites.
and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd
will be working together to create miniaturised components for the next generation of
tiny communications satellites, known as nanosatellites and CubeSats. Bristol-based Thales
Alenia Space will support the project with advice on end-user acceptance aspects and
The project is expected to create 14 new jobs and is a further boost to Cornwall's
ambitions to develop space sector manufacturing, servicing and launch capabilities. Awarded
by the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), the R&D grant is funded by the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by AeroSpace Cornwall.
Huge demand from individuals and business for more high-speed data services is driving
a revolution in satellite technology. Traditional large satellites weighing several tonnes
and orbiting 22,236 miles above the equator are set to make way for nanosatellites and
CubeSats deployed in constellations just 300 miles above the Earth's surface.
But maximising the greater data capacity, or bandwidth, offered by these systems requires
much higher frequency microwave switches to transmit data to ground antennas. These ‘W-band'
switches don't currently exist – and this is where the new partnership comes into play.
With its precision manufacturing skills and experience in space flight hardware, including
for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Flann Microwave is well placed to lead the project.
Completing the partnership, Goonhilly will offer advice around control specifications,
Teddington will design and manufacture the electrical components, and Thales Alenia Space
will provide end-user and environmental consultancy.
Professor James Watts, CEO of Flann Microwave explains: "Nanosatellites and CubeSats
as small as 10cm cubed and weighing as little as 1.4kg are small enough to be launched
as additional payloads on a large mission, in clusters of up to 100 at a time on a single
rocket or by the new class of vertical and horizontal space launch systems being developed
in Scotland and Cornwall. This makes them very cost effective and more than 350 of these
satellites have been launched so far this year."
"Flann has been designing and producing precision components since 1956 and we first
designed and manufactured a W-band switch in 1980 for ground use. Of course, to go into
space, the new switch will need to be much smaller and lighter."
"With all of the funded partners being based in Cornwall there are huge advantages
for the Cornish economy. It puts us at the forefront of a growing sector with the initial
expectation that it will create 14 new jobs and the potential for further growth, including
for the many suppliers already working with the partners."
Teddington MD James Henderson said: "It is good news all round: for us and our partners
but it's the public that are the ultimate winners in the shape of greater data capacity
and bandwidth. It's an exciting project for Teddington systems and a real thrill to know
our miniaturised components will eventually blast into space."
The project is due for completion in July 2019, with a view to the switches being
used in space flight from 2021.
European Regional Development Fund
The project has received £148,000 of funding from
the England European
Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds
Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
(and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority
for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European
Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing
in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community
About Flann Microwave
For over sixty years, Flann Microwave Ltd has been a market-leading designer and manufacturer
of Antennas, Precision Microwave Components and Test and Measurement products operating
between frequencies of 2 to 500GHz and above.
The US operation, Flann Microwave Inc was established in Boston in the 1980's to support
the Company's sales activities in the USA.
Flann Microwave Ltd
Dunmere Road Bodmin
+44 (0)1208 77777
Flann Microwave, Inc.
One Boston Place
Posted November 26, 2018