A group of UK space tech companies are developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will allow satellites to switch which part of the world they cover, managing real-time surges in commercial demand or responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, thanks to Government funding.
Led by global satellite communications network OneWeb, the industrial partners have received more than £32 million from the UK Space Agency, via the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme, for a demonstration satellite due for launch in 2022.
The satellite, nicknamed ‘Joey-Sat’ for its beam-hopping abilities, will be able to remotely direct beams to boost coverage in certain locations, such as areas of high usage where the network is struggling to cope with demand.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From helping during a disaster to providing broadband on planes, this technology will show how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit all of us on Earth.
The new funding, which builds on the UK Space Agency’s previous investments in the Sunrise Programme, will see OneWeb team up with other UK companies, SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK, to demonstrate the technology for its second-generation constellation of satellites.