Clyde Space announces new US customer

CLYDE SPACE, Europe’s leading manufacturer of miniature satellites, has announced a new contract to provide satellite solutions to the California space company Audacy.

The Stanford University spin-off company is developing a constellation of relay satellites to provide non-stop, real-time communications coverage for commercial customers in the space industry, with services similar to NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

The announcement was made as Clyde Space reinforced its reputation for innovation by successfully commissioning a ground station at its Glasgow headquarters to control and track satellites for its customers.

It coincided with a visit to Clyde Space by Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bolander to present the company’s CEO Craig Clark with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation Category which the company won earlier this year.

The events closely follow an announcement earlier this month that it was targeting a world-first through a partnership with technology company Teledyne e2v to provide a state-of-the-art technical solution capable of creating ultra-sensitive cold atoms in space.

The Audacy network of data relay satellites will provide uninterrupted space connectivity, allowing customers to continuously access and monitor their assets in space. This enables satellite operators to obtain greater quantities of data, eliminate outages between data downlinks and significantly reduce costs.

The aim is similar to that of the telecoms industry — to better connect and provide communications services to multiple users simultaneously at competitive prices.

Clyde Space CEO Craig Clark MBE said: “Clyde Space is delighted to be supporting this forward-thinking organisation in developing their spacecraft and helping them to ultimately realise their vision of continuous space-based connectivity.

“Audacy is capitalising on a gap in the space market which will benefit organisations the world over. This is an exciting project and one which is helping to innovate the space industry.”

Sam Avery, co-founder and Head of Spacecraft Integration at Audacy, added: “Clyde Space’s wealth of experience with small satellites and strong engineering support are a huge help as Audacy develops its pioneering communications terminal demonstration mission.”

The addition of the ground station at its Glasgow base means Clyde Space is now a ‘one-stop shop’ with the ability to build sophisticated and complex satellites and then monitor them throughout their journey through space.

Craig said: “There’s been a big demand for us to operate our satellites as well as manufacture them. Our new ground station, built with the support of Scottish Enterprise, not only adds to the Glasgow skyline but forms part of our satellite service package. It’s one of many milestones for 2017, set to be our most exciting year yet.”

The installation means the company, which as well as winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and scooping the Sunday Times-Lloyds Banking Group’s prestigious SME Export Track 100 award for innovation this year, strengthens its pre-and post-mission service to its growing, global list of clients.

Lord Provost Bolander said:  it was “a privilege and pleasure” to present the Queen’s Award for Innovation to Clyde Space.

She said it was “a company that’s out of this world providing highly technical and specialised services”.

“The company’s vision, knowledge and superb customer service has seen overseas sales increase significantlyThat’s a stratospheric achievement and a very strong performance in this growing sector in Glasgow.

“Scotland has a proud reputation for innovation and technical knowledge. Everyone at Clyde Space should be thrilled at this Royal recognition.”

Built with the aid of a Scottish Enterprise SMART grant, the ground station is on the roof of Clyde Space headquarters at Skypark 5 in central Glasgow.

Its location provides an unobstructed sky view which will maximise monitoring of satellite pass times. It will be the control centre for future CubeSats built by the pioneering Scottish space technology specialists.

The key functions on the latest addition to the city’s skyline will be to control and operate the satellites, supporting each specific space mission and to develop understanding and knowledge for inflight testing.

As every satellite is different because of orbit positioning or bespoke configurations for mission requirements, the ground station is highly flexible and will be able to track several satellites at one time. Communication with them will depend on their orbit cycles and the monitoring will be carried out by existing highly-trained Clyde Space staff.

Over the last few years Clyde Space has invested in product and process development, put in place world class assembly and test facilities at its Glasgow headquarters and announced international expansion plans.

Clyde Space is the only dedicated CubeSat supplier in the United Kingdom and now supports, in some form, 40% of all CubeSat missions.

Programmes on board the satellites, which are about the size of a whisky box, are almost unlimited. They include infrastructure monitoring, disaster management, weather and climate data, mapping and even the movement of fish across the oceans.

UKube-1, Scotland’s first satellite, was designed and built by Clyde Space in Glasgow and launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in 2014 and the UKube programme is a strategically important part of the UK Government’s Innovative Growth Strategy for Space

Clyde Space is backed by Scottish investment companies Coralinn LLP and Nevis Capital.

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