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Defence Space 2022: UK Space Command details future plans

More satellites will be procured by the end of 2022 as part of project ‘MINERVA'. (MoD Crown Copyright 2022)

Having reached initial operating capability in April, the Commander of UK Space Command, Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, outlined the command's future plans.

In relation to project ‘MINERVA', AVM Godfrey said at Defence Space 2022 in London that the next set of satellites would be procured by the end of 2022, for launch in 2024. The new systems will further explore on-orbit processing and will have the capability to task other satellites and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, he said.

Project ‘TYCHE', the first satellite procured under ‘MINERVA' in April, will have an electro-optical payload and onboard processing to automatically categorise information in orbit, he said.

‘MINERVA' – an operational concept demonstrator – will be the foundation for the development of a network of satellites for ISR purposes that will integrate space with land, air, sea, and cyber.

AVM Godfrey also detailed the command's plans to establish a Defence Space Academy. They have visited several academic institutions to discuss training options, and are looking to contract a training solution by the end of this year, he added.

According to the Defence Space Academy timeline outlined by AVM Godfrey, construction of the academy will start by 2024.

The responsibility for Skynet, a satellite communications capability, was expected to be transferred to the UK Space Command in April this year; however, the command now expects to take control of the system next year. The delay is because the command has not reached full operating capability, and therefore lacks the capacity to control Skynet, according to AVM Godfrey.

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