The future for UK satellites

11th September 2018
Posted By : Enaie Azambuja
The future for UK satellites

The Prime Minister’s announcement of launching a satellite programme following Brexit presents a number of opportunities for British businesses. Here, Graham Mackrell, managing director of precision gear specialist, Harmonic Drive UK, explained. Around the world we have become heavily reliant on satellites in our everyday lives. Not only are functions such as global positioning systems (GPS) widely used, but so are many other forms of satellite including communications, weather and geophysical.

As it stands, the UK’s space and satellite industry is booming. In fact, the sector has trebled in size since 2000 and is estimated to grow from £190bn to £400bn by 2030, following its strong pipeline of work.

While there is much uncertainty surrounding the UK’s involvement with the EU’s Galileo satellite programme post-Brexit, there is no denying that the UK’s expertise has proven instrumental to the project’s development.

This highly technical knowledge will prove even more valuable to British businesses in the upcoming years, as companies compete to win other multimillion-pound contracts.

For example, the requirements for satellites are very stringent. Satellites must be capable of withstanding the harsh environment of space, whilst also maintaining the highest standards of reliability because they cannot be retrieved easily for maintenance or repair.

Due to the excellent positioning accuracy and high-power density of our Harmonic Drive Gears, our strain wave gear principle has become increasingly popular among design engineers for space applications. This has included making the gear assemblies that position the antenna of satellites.

With more than 40 years’ experience in the space and satellite sector, at Harmonic Drive UK we believe that the PM’s pledge will be a strong strategic move for the UK industry and economy. This is because the announcement has come at a time when many aerospace and engineering companies around the world are facing a global components shortage.

Complex and resilient components like those offered by Harmonic Drive UK for the space and satellite sector often have longer lead times because of the precision needed to manufacture the parts.

With an influx in demand for these types of components, the timeline proposed for the new satellite programme will give businesses ample opportunity to plan their projects effectively and source the highest quality components.


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