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Smiths Interconnect awarded c.£2m in funding from the UK Space Agency

28 November 2023

A substantial grant will enhance Smiths Interconnect’s space testing capabilities, and help strengthen the UK’s foothold in the international space sector.

Smiths Interconnect today announces it has received £1,907,065 in funding from the UK Space Agency through its ‘Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund’ (SCIF).

The funding will be used by Smiths Interconnect to enhance its Space Qualification Laboratory, a cutting-edge facility in Dundee that simulates the extreme conditions of space – one of the harshest environments known to humankind – to assure the quality and durability of space components. 

Julian Fagge, President of Smiths Interconnect, said: “Ongoing investment in the UK space sector in recent years is helping the country to become a global leader in space. 

“Our work in Dundee aims to create unrivalled design, prototyping and manufacturing capacity coupled with an open-innovation space qualification testing lab, serving a key market need and strengthening our national space capabilities further. We are grateful to the UK Space Agency for supporting us in our mission.”

From simulating the extreme vibration and shock environment of launch to surviving the extreme temperature swings experienced during space flight, the lab has a range of capabilities in which it will be investing substantially, through the SCIF grant.

A key goal for Smiths Interconnect is to reduce both the time-to-market and cost of manufacturing of its radio frequency (RF) and optical components. This will be enabled by developing new, in-house digital manufacturing capabilities and scaling up production through the automation of manufacturing processes, assembly and testing of products.

RF and optical components are essential components for space exploration providing critical communication and data transfer capabilities in deep space.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “It’s exciting to see the emergence and growth of vibrant space clusters across Scotland and the whole of the UK. Smiths Interconnect’s Space Qualification Laboratory in Dundee is a significant facility, capable of simulating the extreme conditions of space, cutting costs for manufacturers, and speeding up the time it takes to get new products and components to market, and into space. 

“It is a brilliant demonstration of the potential of our thriving space sector to develop innovative infrastructure that helps us to deliver increasingly ambitious missions and capabilities.

“The Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund highlights the government’s commitment to space and will help deliver the goal set out in the National Space Strategy to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, developing new skills and creating jobs.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, John Lamont, said: “The Scottish space sector continues to go from strength to strength with the latest figures showing an almost £40 million increase in income and more than 100 new, highly skilled jobs with support from the UK Government. 

“This new funding from the UK Space Agency will boost Scottish expertise based in Dundee working on infrastructure and digital fabrication, helping to maintain UK leadership in this sector.” 

Through the UKSA SCIF funding, Smiths Interconnect plans to make its lab available to other UK space companies, particularly within the UK’s space clusters – areas of the country where the UK’s space industry is flourishing – enabling them to utilise these high-quality space testing and qualification capabilities. 

To date, Smiths Interconnect’s Space Qualification Laboratory has completed more than 50 space component test and qualification campaigns, and Smiths Interconnect Dundee has a long heritage of serving the international space sector, including contributing to the following:

• 45 – Total number of deep space missions in which Smiths Interconnect in Dundee has been involved
• ~223,000 – Total number of Smiths Interconnect parts supplied for spacecraft
• 21-25bn hours – Estimated operational time Smiths Interconnect’s products have spent in space
• 17-21bn km – Estimated distance Smiths Interconnect’s products have travelled in space
• 20+ years – Longest mission programme to which Smiths Interconnect’s products have contributed (Cassini/Huygens)
• 0 – Smiths Interconnect product failures in space


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