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  • Satellite Evolution

IOD-3 Amber begins its journey to orbit


Integration team (Satellite Application Catapult, Horizon Technologies, Virgin Orbit and AAC Clyde Space) at Spaceport Cornwall

On October 10 the IOD-3 AmberTM satellite was successfully integrated into Virgin Orbit’s launch system ready for the Start Me Up mission, which is due to launch from Cornwall in the first half of November pending regulatory approval IOD-3 AmberTM has been developed by the Satellite Applications Catapult and Horizon Technologies and built by AAC Clyde Space. It is a UK success story, with organisations across the country, from Dundee to Cornwall involved in its development. These organisations form just one part of the mature and successful UK space supply chain which has worked on more than half of the satellites on this inaugural launch.


The satellite will be the first of more than twenty in Horizon’s AmberTM constellation, which will provide governments and other customers with invaluable information to help combat illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking, piracy and terrorism.


IOD-3 AmberTM forms part of the Satellite Applications Catapult’s In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) programme, which supports UK businesses to rapidly develop and launch a satellite data service into orbit. IOD is a prime example of the Satellite Applications Catapult’s role to grow the UK space sector. By making technically challenging projects easy, it removes barriers to the growth of the industry and helps innovative companies like Horizon Technologies bring products and services to market more quickly.


The Satellite Applications Catapult’s IOD programme is funded by Innovate UK and the UK Space Agency.


Lucy Edge, Chief Operations Officer, Satellite Applications Catapult: “Horizon Technologies’ satellite brilliantly demonstrates the success of UK space businesses and the supply chain we have today for the design, build, launch and operations of small satellites. The story of this satellite is one of remarkable UK companies collaborating for mutual success. This launch from UK soil marks the start of the next great stage in the UK’s space story, unlocking commercial access to space from our own back gardens.”


John Beckner, CEO of Horizon Technologies: “The whole team at Horizon Technologies applauds this critical step in our path to orbit. We have been working closely with AAC Clyde Space for many months now, and it’s great to see this step happen, and get closer to the fruition of all our efforts.”


Luis Gomes, CEO, AAC Clyde Space, adds “This launch sets a precedent for the future of the UK Space industry and highlights the strength of the UK in the development of complex small satellite missions, as outlined in the National Space Strategy. “These fantastic organisations we’ve collaborated with form just one part of the mature and successful UK space supply chain which has worked on more than half of the satellites on this inaugural launch. “The UK has a strong history in the development and production of small satellites, including our own EPIC Link solution – and now there is an opportunity to launch from home soil. AAC Clyde Space is proud to be supporting the UK to develop a sustainable, commercial small satellite launch market.”


Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “Glasgow is a global hub of small satellite manufacturing, pioneered by companies like AAC Clyde Space and supported by a thriving sector across the country. We’re building a sustainable, commercial launch market to give these companies access to space from UK soil and catalyse investment from all over the world.

“As we countdown to the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall, it’s very encouraging and exciting to see British-built satellites, including IOD-3 Amber, beginning their journey to orbit from the UK.”


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