2019 has been a memorable year for space exploration. Not only did we mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing, but we’re entering an exciting new age of space exploration. What’s exciting about this new era of space exploration is not necessarily where we’re planning on going, but how we’re planning on getting there through collaboration and partnerships with allies.
Back in 1969 when Neil Armstrong transmitted those famous words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” there was very little collaboration when it came to space exploration. NASA was working with a limited number of industry partners, like Raytheon whose guidance computers steered some of the first space capsules, including Apollo 11. But overall, collaboration was scarce.
Fast forward to today and the situation has changed dramatically. Not only are partnerships between NASA and the private sector burgeoning, opening up new possibilities, and hastening accomplishments, but we’re also turning to our allies to forge partnerships to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to space technology.
At the heart of this revitalized mission is partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom. The long-standing relationship between these two allies is what makes collaboration in this highly sensitive theater possible. And, in turn, the advancements made by sharing key technologies, training capabilities, and mission-critical data will further strengthen these bonds and the benefits they convey.
Most recently, this collaboration has expanded in the private sector to include industry leaders.
“With the rapid advance of technology and explosive growth in the commercialization of space, the old tool kit for our use of space is less and less relevant to the world we live in today,” said Gil Klinger, Vice President of Space and Intelligence at Raytheon. “The question now is how the pace of our evolution in space-based capabilities can maintain the speed of relevance to match or exceed that of the adversary. That is why Raytheon is partnering on the Team ARTEMIS program to advance the UK’s sovereign space capability, utilizing agile development processes to speed innovation, and taking an enterprise approach to satellite ground systems.”
Technology transfer models such as this, that bring US space technology to the UK enable UK companies and the MOD to develop bespoke solutions more quickly, deploy satellite constellations, and transmit, receive, and process data more quickly.
“Our relationship with UK companies and the MOD builds on Raytheon’s pioneering work with the US government in transforming how they develop and deploy satellite control and planning systems,” Klinger shared. “We’re leveraging our experience developing ground control systems for GPS and other critical satellite constellations.”
Over the next decade, as these partnerships ramp up and deliver on their promise, we expect to see a new golden age of space exploration. With the considerable investments that both the UK and US governments are making in talent, skills, launch facilities, satellites, and neural networks, to name just a few high-value items, will help focus the mission, speed decision-making, and deliver high-quality results. “The work we’re doing in space ground control is very interesting and is mission critical to our customers,” said Klinger. “But what is most important, though, is the way in which they will enhance civil society and protect the nation more effectively,” he concluded.