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UK launches space-based response to Covid-19 pandemic

Some £2.6 million to develop space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS’s response to coronavirus has been launched today by the UK Space Agency in collaboration with ESA.

The UK government has called on industry and universities help develop technology and equipment – from hand sanitiser to ventilators – to support the NHS.

Space-enabled solutions could include satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.

Amanda Solloway, science minister, said:“The UK space sector is a world leader in applying satellite and data technology to challenges we face on Earth, from responding to natural disasters to managing outbreaks of infectious disease.

“We are all in this together and this new funding will help develop practical solutions from one of our most innovative industrial sectors to support our brilliant NHS.”

Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in Harwell, Oxfordshire, said: “Even in normal times, satellites and space technology offer solutions to our needs in connectivity and inclusion, in resilience and logistics, and to support healthcare provision in even the most extreme situations.

“The current circumstances challenge the space business community to show just how much it can offer, to help us through this once-in-a-century event.”

The funding is being made available to support projects to develop hi-tech solutions that address: logistics within the health delivery system, for example, drone deliveries; managing infectious disease outbreaks; population health and wellbeing; recovering health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis; and preparedness for future epidemics.

To learn more about Space helping the UK on COVID-19 and other pandemics, please see here.

14 April 2020
Last updated at 30 April 2020 - 12:06