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The British Midlands region of the UK has a long-standing and successful association with the Aerospace Industry, with global giants such as Rolls-Royce, GE, Airbus and BAe Systems located here. This expertise has also extended beyond the earth’s orbit, where satellites and instruments can be found that have been made possible by space scientists working in the region’s universities.
For example, scientists at the University of Leicester are working with NASA on a project to replace the famous Hubble telescope. The telescope will be more powerful than its famous predecessor and will orbit 930,000 miles above the Earth.
As a result, scientists will be able to see further than ever before, hopefully discovering more about the origins of the universe, finding out what happened after the Big Bang and even answering the age-old question: are other life forms out there?
When it launches in 2013, the new telescope (named the James Webb Space Telescope) will be fitted with sensors - collectively known as the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) - developed by the University of Leicester’s space engineers as part of a European-wide consortium. The equipment will be so sensitive that it will be able to detect heat from, and take pictures of, planets millions of light years away which have never been seen before.
The university’s Tim Stevenson, MIRI’s Chief Engineer, explained the possibilities of the new project: “We only know about one solar system: our own. We do not know about the billions and billions of others. It is important to know the history of how our solar system has evolved.“What we will learn is how big or how small, how important or unimportant, our solar system is within the cosmos. And if we discover other solar systems like ours, it leads to the conclusion that other civilisations will exist or have existed.”
The University of Leicester is also responsible for The National Space Centre, which has world-renowned space science expertise. The Centre is able to engage visitors with the very latest developments in space exploration through a network of links into the international space community. These links encompass industry, academia, and space agencies from around the world.
Additionally the British Midlands is home to the University of Birmingham Astrophysics and Space Research Group, which has a long heritage of building space instruments. It has launched 15 over the past 40 years and currently has six in orbit on operational missions. Birmingham was responsible for the data analysis from the XMM-Newton mission and for the thermal design of the European Photon Imaging Camera, one of three instruments on XMM-Newton.
Furthermore the university is renowned for the design and manufacture of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic components for space applications and is involved in the development of composites with embedded sensors.
As well as these two outstanding university research groups, the region is also home to a number of companies involved in manufacturing for the space industry. These include Tekdata Interconnect Systems, one of an exclusive set of companies able to meet NASA’s demanding specifications for space-borne interconnection systems & Magna Parva, experienced design, development and test engineers whose recent project involves contributing to the BepiColombo MIXS instrument which will be used on the European Space Agency Mission set to orbit Mercury in 2013.
To find out more about the British Midlands’ space research and development and how it could benefit your company, please contact either Catherine Allford on +44(0)115 988 8527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Richard England +44 (0) 121 380 3639 or email email@example.com