There is a lot of highly interdisciplinary research taking place in the UK space research community, and several organisations exist to provide a focus to such work. We asked Simon Evetts, of the UK Space Environments Association, to give an overview of the UKSEA and its aims.
In recent years there has been increasing recognition in the UK for the need to better communicate and coordinate across the disciplines that use aspects of the space environment for R&D. These domains of activity, for example space biomedicine, astrobiology and microgravity physics, do not appear to have obvious common ground, but there are certain fields of enterprise and need common to all. A good example is remote healthcare where for instance the need exists to prevent the proliferation of virulent microbes in space vehicles, a capability with benefits for terrestrial healthcare, a highly topical point given recent world events. Each of the aforementioned disciplines can contribute to the search and provision of solutions to needs such as this.
The improved efficiencies that more effective C3 (communication, coordination, collaboration) can engender enables our space environments research teams to develop more effectively and support the UK’s attempt to grow our space industry with the objective of acquiring 10% of the global market by 2030.
The agreement to establish the UK Space Environment Association (UKSEA) was made last year at the UK Space Environments Conference in Leicester with the following aims:
- To present to government, research funders and the public, a single, independent and focussed ‘voice’ to represent the space environments domain.
- To provide a focal point for communication, coordination and collaboration (C3) across the disciplines associated with space environments R&D, education, business and operations in the UK.
- For the benefit of the UK, and the membership itself, to coordinate activities and draw upon the capabilities, facilities and experiences of the membership to:
- Enable inter-organisational facility/equipment lending and hire across domains.
- Facilitate funding acquisition both through traditional (e.g. Research Council) and innovative (e.g. provider/customer market matching) means.
The process of establishment continues throughout this year and in to the next with the intention of formally launching the Association and exhibiting the services that will be available to members (and to some extent the wider community) at the 2015 UK Space Conference, which takes place on the 14–15 July at the Liverpool Arena & Convention Centre. Anyone or any organisation wishing to learn more about joining the association please drop UKSEA co-cordinator, Andrew Winnard, an email at Andrew.Winnard@ukspacelabs.co.uk.
— Simon Evetts, UKSEA co-coordinator