The scheme would be one of the UK’s largest investments to-date in the satellite communications industry 

The UK government is working on a scheme to fund the development of satellite communications in Britain. Named the Connectivity in Low Earth Orbit (CLEO) scheme, the programme’s aim is to provide support to researchers and businesses in the satellite communications sector, aiming to propel the development of new satellite constellations. 

Michelle Donelan, Science and Technology Secretary, said the government is exploring an initial grant of £100 million, and an additional £60 million from the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme from the European Space Agency (ESA). 

Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations are more resilient than ground-based infrastructure, and when complete, can potentially provide total global coverage. The advancement of such LEO technology is vital to bring strong connectivity to the most rural parts of the country, and achieving this will help to close the current digital divide in the UK, according to the UK government. 

The fund will aid the creation of many skilled jobs, boost the economy, and fuel the National Space Council’s aim of making the UK a ‘true space superpower.’ 

“Tackling the digital divide is at the heart of empowering our citizens wherever they live, and by investing in the vital research and development that CLEO would facilitate, we can level up our country while growing the economy through high-quality jobs,” commented Donelan.  

“Today’s announcement is a vital step towards the delivery of a key priority of the UK Space Agency – to maximise the potential of low Earth orbit and become a global leader in next generation satellite communications technologies by building our ability to service future high-volume constellations” said Harshbir Sangha, Missions and Capabilities Delivery Director at the UK Space Agency. 

The launch of the scheme will be dependent on standard approval procedures, and further information will be provided to the public in a UK Space Agency webinar on 10th August. 

Interested in keeping up with the conversation around the UK’s satellite communications? Join us at this years’ Connected Britain event 

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