SET Projects

Emerging Space Technologies

Through a 10 year Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies (2018-2028) we are developing a range of novel technologies at extremes of spacecraft length-scale; from micro-to-macro. At the micro-scale these include the development of swarms of centimetre-scale femtospacecraft with integrated communications, sensing and attitude control. At the macro-sale these include technologies for in-space manufacturing of large space structures.

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Energy from Space

The European Research Council SOLSPACE project (2020-2025) is investigating the use of constellations of ultra-lightweight orbiting solar reflectors to illuminate large terrestrial solar power plants a night. The growing demand for global clean energy services, aligned with falling launch costs through reusability is bringing such concepts closer to reality. Our work includes analysis novel families of orbits for the reflectors, attitude control, scalable structural design and economic modelling.

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Asteroid Resources

Our long standing programme of research on asteroid resources is investigating a range of problems including; low energy capture trajectories, multi-spacecraft pitcher/catch strategies and the formation of artificial binary pairs of small near Earth asteroids. Near Earth asteroids represent a resource to underpin future space ventures by providing water and metals which are already at the top of the Earth’s deep gravity well. In particular water can be electrolysed into hydrogen/oxygen propellant.

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