The United Kingdom has a history of strong performance in space exploration - after all, it was the United Kingdom that was the third power to operate a satellite in space (after the United States and the Soviet Union). The UK continues to demonstrate significant contributions to space technologies in collaboration not only with NASA, but also with European states (as a member of the European Space Agency). This success is maintained well into the 21st century and the New Space economy; in 2021 the UK space economy employed 47,000 people, and had an income of £16.5billion.
It is fantastic to hear that, to build on this success, the UK Space Agency has announced a generous package to fund UK companies in technologies to aid in humanity's effort to return to the Moon. The £50 million package is part of the European Space Agency's Moonlight programme, which aims to place a constellation of satellites into orbit around the Moon.
Long-term habitation of the moon's surface - and in the moon's orbit via the proposed Gateway space station - poses new technical challenges in the field of navigation and communication. Practical solutions to these challenges will prove indispensable to the long-term success of the many manned missions in the upcoming decades.
Any company embarking on (or continuing) their journey in research and technology may wish to consider that the development of new technologies will go hand-in-hand with the generation of valuable intellectual property. In this case, intellectual property may lie in multiple aspects of the developed communication and navigation services - for example, satellite instrumentation, sensors, fine attitude control, and software to process and command objects in orbit and on the lunar surface.
Companies seeking to take advantage of this new funding - or other funding like it - can find great advantages to placing considerations of their IP front and centre. By carefully leveraging their IP, the overall value and effectiveness of a business can be significantly increased. For more details, see our free e-book, the IP driven Start-up.
With interest and expertise in space-based technologies, Marks & Clerk attorneys would be thrilled to assist any UK company seeking to establish themselves in the growing UK space sector - do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.