UK Boosts Spending On International Moon, Mars Partnerships

Image: NASA

The UK Space Agency will invest £7.4M ($9.3M) into joint projects with India, Japan, Canada, and the US that will pave the way for exploration of the Moon and Mars, the agency announced Wednesday. 

The funding will allow British research teams to build scientific instruments for missions led by three national space agencies—NASA, JAXA, and ISRO—as well as a commercial partnership with the Japanese-headquartered lunar exploration startup ispace. 

More details: The UK is the fourth largest contributor to the ESA budget. This new funding, however, will allow British scientists to develop partnerships outside of Europe. Some examples:

  • A team from the University of Leicester will develop a Raman analytical spectroscope to help ispace’s landers search for resources on the lunar surface.
  • Open University will receive £2M($2.5M) to develop high-performance detectors for the NASA- and CSA-backed International Mars Ice Mapper mission, which will look for accessible water deposits on the red planet.
  • Researchers from Royal Holloway University will join the team working on India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission. While the mission’s lander crashed into the Moon in 2019, the orbiter is still operational, and a UK team will develop new software to analyze data the spacecraft collects about the distribution of water on the Moon.

The big picture: Overall, the UK Space Agency is contributing to seven international partnerships including three astrophysics missions with NASA and an instrument for a future Japanese Mars rover.

“These projects present an opportunity for UK science to make crucial contributions to ground-breaking global missions that will deepen our understanding of the Moon and our neighbouring planets,” Paul Bate, chief of the UK Space Agency, said in a statement.

Related Stories

South Korea Initiates EO Constellation with NEONSAT-1 Launch

South Korea took the initial steps toward building its domestic EO capability on Tuesday with the launch of NEONSAT-1, the first in a planned 11-sat constellation.


A Q+A With UKSA Chief Paul Bate

The UK Space Agency challenged industry in January to extract and purify water ice on the Moon—and so far, companies have come forward in droves with ideas to solve the problem, according to the agency’s CEO.


SpaceX and Blue Origin Cargo Advance Work on Cargo Lunar Landers 

NASA released new renderings and details of the SpaceX and Blue Origin lander intended to deliver cargo to the Moon as it progresses toward a preliminary design review.


US, French Space Industry Meeting in DC This Week

The US is hosting the second US-France Comprehensive Space Dialogue this Wednesday, and most of the American space heavy hitters will be attending.