Israeli satellite firm hiSky has expanded into the UK, backed by £9m funding by the UK Space Agency as part of Britain’s push into the new space age. The company, which builds low-cost satellites to provide voice and data to mobile phones, has established an office in London and a research and development centre at the Harwell science and technology campus. The UK Space Agency says that the ‘Space Cluster’ at the campus is “growing fast and already home to more than 90 space companies”.
HiSky’s operations in the UK will include development of a ‘satellite communications network management system’, as well as researching how to bring the cost down for its proprietary technology. The company will also be looking into integrating 5G coverage into its networks as it looks to become the latest player in satellite coverage for the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), connecting machines and vehicles around the world, including in remote areas.
“The UK government’s modern Industrial Strategy and commitment to the European Space Agency are bringing innovative companies like OneWeb, SatixFy and hiSky to Britain,” said Science Minister Chris Skidmore. “Our world-leading universities, modern regulatory environment, growing R&D spend and support for UK spaceports make this a great place to build a space business and create the high-skilled jobs of the future.”
HiSky chief executive Shahar Kravitz said: “The UK Space Agency and Department for International Trade have been very supportive of our technology and our concept from the beginning. We are grateful for the chance given to us and look forward to grow within the UK.”
The expansion of HiSky, which claims to be producing the only ‘true low-cost’ satellite network, will look to make the firm a major player in the ever-growing internet satellite industry. As well as the Richard Branson backed OneWeb, which has just reaffirmed its commitment to the UK by creating 150 jobs at its London Headquarters, companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are sending scores of satellites in ‘low-earth-orbit’.
While the increased prevalence of internet satellites will offer global coverage in underserved areas, some critical astronomers have expressed concern over the effects of ‘space debris’ and light pollution as more satellites are sent into the Earth’s orbit.