‘Hand-sized spacecraft’ will bring web to remote regions

Clyde Space, the company which designed and manufactured Scotland’s first satellite, has signed a £1m deal to build three of its ‘CubeSats’ for American broadcast company Outernet Inc in a partnership funded by the UK Space Agency.

Outernet’s aim is to make web access free and unrestricted through space-based telecommunications.

As the project develops, Clyde Space hopes to secure business from the New York based company to develop 200 satellites broadcasting the service.

The company says that the constellation of CubeSats in low earth orbit would revolutionise the provision of low cost data to remote regions of the world

Clyde Space says that its expertise will help Outernet advance the project to supply an inexpensive alternative to traditional telecommunications infrastructure.

The devices being built by Clyde Space measure 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and weigh just 1kg.

Craig Clark, chief executive of Glasgow-based Clyde Space, said: “Outernet is an ambitious and hugely important initiative to bring free information access to the world and we’re absolutely thrilled to be involved.

“The mission itself is a great example of how a spacecraft that is small enough to hold in your hand can provide what I believe will become a vital global service.

“That’s not to say the technical challenges of making a satellite this small are insignificant, but our team of spacecraft engineers and technicians are relishing the prospect of producing these spacecraft in the coming months.”

Syed Karim, chief executive of Outernet, said:  “A partnership with CubeSat experts Clyde Space and the UK Space Agency is a very exciting step for Outernet.

“It not only demonstrates a meeting of the minds on the importance of information access but shows that there can be very concrete economic windfalls from doing enormous good in the world.

“This project is not just about producing test hardware for Outernet to use in advancing our mission, but about refining a process that changes the entire communications industry.”

Dr David Parker, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The Outernet project is an excellent example of how international collaboration on space programmes can provide new business opportunities to the UK whilst supporting vital areas of global space activity such as telecommunications.

“By combining expertise in space technology we can boost innovation and widely share the considerable economic and social benefits that space can provide.”

UKube-1, Scotland’s first satellite, was designed and built by Clyde Space in Glasgow and was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in July last year.

Clyde Space is a leading producer of small satellite, nanosatellite and CubeSat systems, and is currently producing its most advanced CubeSat for the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-ISAB) and the European Space Agency (ESA).