Airbus in the UK has put its backing behind a new space research group at Cranfield University covering Advanced Space Mission Concepts (ASMiC).

Looking at concepts and technologies likely to become feasible in 5-10 years, the ASMiC research group will cover independent one-off studies and also longer term PhDs. Airbus has committed £500,000 to the group over the next five years.

The studies will focus on key space capabilities and could include in-orbit servicing, space robotics and autonomy, in-orbit assembly and manufacturing, space traffic management, advanced constellations, in-space/Lunar/Martian human bases, and in-situ resource utilisation such as outer space mining.

Colin Paynter, head of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK said: “It is vital that we support the next generation of space experts if we are to build on the current success of space research and industry in the UK.  By funding this research into advanced concepts we can help foster new ideas and help to make them a reality which could lead to even more innovative and useful ways for space to benefit our everyday lives.”

Professor Iain Gray, director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, said: ““There are some really exciting opportunities for innovation within the UK space industry. With Airbus support, Cranfield is looking to build on its world-leading Astronautics and Space Engineering MSc by playing a key role in those research developments. We are extremely grateful for the support of Airbus. This announcement builds on our strong partnership with them in other areas such as the Aerospace Integration Research Centre.”

Airbus Defence and Space in the UK recruits approximately 45 graduates every year onto its advanced graduate programme, as well as about 20 apprentices.  In the last 10 years Airbus has brought more than 280 graduates and 173 apprentices into the space business working on a variety of projects from the ExoMars rover to telecommunications satellites, or the Solar Orbiter mission to the Sun.

The ASMiC research group will also involve Cranfield Defence and Security, reflecting the need to increase the space awareness and competences of military personnel in the UK.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.