Wales is proud of its Arc of Innovation, its considerable capability defined through a combination of strategic sites, segregated air-space capability that is unique within Europe, a single source of world leading training and R&D (delivered through the Wales Academic Space Partnership), indigenous up and down stream space companies and proactive support from the Aerospace Wales Forum and Welsh Government.
Wales has some key capabilities in both the upstream (what goes into space) and downstream (the exploitation of space data and capability) and the promotion of Llanbedr airfield as a potential candidate for the proposed UK Spaceport has helped raise our profile further. The UK Government has taken a positive decision to support growth in the sector by establish- ing a UK Space Agency, producing a strategy for growth in partnership with industry and establishing the Satellite Applications Catapult to help develop the key technologies.
Aerospace Wales works in partnership with our colleagues in Welsh Government to build relationships with the UK space community capitalising on our existing strengths and ensuring strong alignment with the UK Space Strategy.
Welsh Universities have considerable expertise in space related research, and we have brought these together as a collaborative grouping WASP – the Wales Academic Space Partnership. Aberystwyth University for example has an Intelligent Robotics Group and has supported the Beagle 2 and a number of future Mars missions.
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Wales also has some key industrial capabilities:
Qioptic Space in Bodelwyddan sits at the heart of a world class opto-electronics cluster and its products for space applications include lenses for space telescopes, radiation stable micro-sheet cover glass, optical solar reflectors and ultra thin glass. Qioptiq has an 80% share of the world market for space glass and has a space heritage stretching back to 1971. Cardiff based IQE is firmly established as the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers with products that cover a diverse range of applications including space, supported by an innovative outsourced foundry services portfolio that allows the Group to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for the wafer needs of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers.
The Pendine rocket test track, operated by Qinetiq has recently been used to support the development of the Thrust SSC project. Teledyne Labtech based in Presteigne, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microwave circuit solutions for applications in space and satellite communications. As well as space hardware we also have considerable capability in the downstream area and see this whole area as having huge growth potential. For example Aberystwyth’s Earth Observation and Ecosystem Dynamics Research Group is using space derived data in a range of applications including assessment of biodiversity, remote sensing of natural hazards and the dynamics of tropical forest regeneration and degradation. An important element of the strategy will be to grow the user base of such capability.