Observation Instrumentation and Space Technology has announced the NSTP-2 Space Technology Call for Technology Flag Ship projects. The total budget available for the Call will be GBP 2 million, with additional PV funds required from industrial bidders. The Call is scheduled to be released on 26 March 2015, on behalf of the UK Space Agency, by the CEOI-ST Partners (Airbus DS Ltd, QinetiQ Ltd, STFC/RAL Space and University of Leicester) who will also manage the selected projects for the Agency.
According to the ADS news brief, it is anticipated that proposal selection will be conducted during June/July 2015, with projects typically starting from September 2015. According to ADS, proposals are sought for space technology research and development projects that align with the National Space Technology Strategy and with the related technology roadmaps covering the 5 main themes: telecommunications; sensing; position, navigation and timing; exploration and robotics; access to space.
Projects should develop technologies to a high TRL (typically 5 or above), offer a significant commercial opportunity, and have a clear exploitation route to market.
New products would be considered a positive outcome of the project. Technology Flag Ship projects would typically attract a grant valued at up to GBP 1 million and would be required to be complete within 24 months. In exceptional circumstances a grant above this amount could be awarded, but this would need a compelling case to be presented.
There is an expectation that projects will be led by industry; however non-industrial project leads would be considered if they can demonstrate they can deliver a viable route to market. Downstream applications, data transmission, ground infrastructure and software-based projects are acceptable if they have a strong technology development element and provide a step change in capability. Projects which only offer an incremental improvement or which do not have a significant technology element are not in scope.
The NSTP has become an important programme for several SMEs and other companies catering to the space sector. According to the European Space Agency’s review and evaluation of the NSTP released in November 2014, SMEs and new entrants into the space sector commented that involvement in the programme improved their recruitment and retention of staff. Based on feedback from stakeholder questionnaires, advantages gained through the
- Improving company recruitment and retention of staff (this was reported by many companies, particularly SMEs and new entrants into the space sector).
- Defining detailed road-maps for future development.
- Increasing customer base.
- Collaborations fostered through the programme have improved companies’ competitiveness (e.g. a more effective supply chain and development of new manufacturing techniques by the Telecom Satellite
Mechanical Platform consortium (Fast-track)).
- Allowing the UK to access growing markets (e.g. SSTL & Airbus Defence and Space being the first to exploit to the SAR market with significantly lower costs than offered elsewhere (Japan and Italy still being in the conceptual stage)).
- Providing a platform that enabled long-term self-financed R&D work (e.g. one of the projects included the development of a test-bed that has allowed the company to undertake more of its own R&D work).
- Increasing visibility for SMEs of the ESA and prime contractor future requirements.
- Developing state-of-the-art MMIC chip for space applications.
- Showing the potential for delivering output power in an ITAR-free solution.
- Practical demonstrations; execution and independence of applications.
- Encouraging and developing more strategic goals.
- Developing prototypes of experimental hardware.
- Developing Europe’s most advanced TRL5 thruster for Green
- Allowed progression from a low TRL concept into a working prototype.
(Source: MPI, with data from ADS and the ESA)