Launch Partnership Signed Between University of Edinburgh’s Asteria Student Satellite Group and Responsive Access

A student-led satellite group from the University of Edinburgh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Responsive Access, a launch brokerage firm that participates in the European Space Agency Business Incubation program, with a view to procuring a launch opportunity. 

Student satellite group Asteria are hosted at Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre innovation hub. Their team is working on the production of a cubesay in order to monitor the likes of vegetative blight and flooding, as well as a new mission entitled “Remote Sensing of Air Pollution: New Insights Into Seasonal Respiratory Diseases,” which started two months ago in light of the COVID19 pandemic. 

By partnering with Responsive Access, the project’s chance of finding a swift and suitable launch opportunity will increase, while the group intend to benefit from the various mission management processes provided by the space brokerage company from their base at the Higgs Centre for Innovation, part of the Royal Observatory site in Edinburgh. 

Asteria was founded last year to address the motivated interests in data science and space engineering among Edinburgh’s students and academics, with a view to developing solutions around matters of the environment and the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs). They plan to achieve their aims using purpose-built satellites, state-of-the-art sensors, robust system designs and advanced post-processing. 

The cubesat project is supported by the University Fellow for Space and Satellite Analysis, as well as academics from the Schools of Geosciences, Informatics and Engineering. 

Their base at the Bayes Centre allows them to work alongside cutting-edge robotics and artificial intelligence developments, as part of an innovation hub that was opened in 2018 by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, after receiving funding through the Edinburgh City Deal. Edinburgh is currently home to several space data organizations capturing and analyzing downstream data for a variety of reasons, including the monitoring of environmental change, food and agricultural stock and maritime channels. 

The data-driven innovation taking place in the city is part of a wider space ecosystem in the country that has seen more than 100 satellites built in Glasgow, rocket manufacturers developing launch systems and no-less than five developing spaceport sites in areas such as Prestwick and Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. 

Responsive Access Chief Executive, Andrew Paliwoda, stated that the company’s team is delighted to have been selected to help move Asteria’s exciting project toward launch. The opportunity to work with leading UK universities provides the firm with a valuable way to fine-tune the Responsive Access offering, which is based around the delivery of low-cost launch via the firm’s launch vehicle partners. It also lets for the testing of the ancillary services that can be offeedr to clients, from environmental testing and certification for satellites, through to assistance with insurance and license paperwork. 

The partnership with Asteria marks the further milestone for Responsive Access, following their announcement last month surrounding their support of GU Orbit, based at the University of Glasgow, with their mission preparation. 

Ani Vasudevan, Managing Director at Asteria, said the organization is thrilled to be collaborating with Responsive Access for the launch of the team’s first satellite, Oracle 1. Developing a satellite from mission planning to launch is something that very few, if any, students in the UK have exposure to, yet many are enthralled by the potential. This is true in a time where student projects are becoming an increasingly vital aspect of learning at Universities. This partnership with Responsive Access will help Asteria nurture that excitement in space for many years and many satellites to come.