Imperial space experts feature in key Parliamentary report

A number of Imperial College London researchers were cited in the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report into the UK space sector

Background: Science and Technology Committee space inquiry

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee scrutinises the work of the Government on those issues and conducts inquiries into matters of national interest in the science and technology sectors.

The Committee has released a report (pdf) summarising their recent inquiry into ’ UK space strategy and UK satellite infrastructure ’. In it, they assess the Government’s National Space Strategy and make a number of recommendations for ways in which the Government can support the UK’s commercial and defence space sectors, and how Government leadership is needed to maintain the UK’s vital access to satellite capabilities.

Three Imperial College London researchers submitted written evidence to the Committee, all of whom were cited in the final report. They were Dr Helen Brindley , Professor of Earth Observation, Dr Jonathan Eastwood , Reader in Space Physics, and Professor David Southwood , Senior Research Investigator. Professor Southwood and Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng , Chair in Positioning and Navigation Systems, were also invited to deliver remarks and answer questions in front of the Committee at an oral evidence session last year.

Imperial researcher contributions to report

The Committee report made reference to Dr Eastwood’s analysis of the Government decision to purchase a stake in the OneWeb satellite system, as well as relying on his expertise to define key terms relating to the issue of space debris and ’Space Traffic Management’.

Professor Southwood was cited in relation to underlining the importance for the UK space sector of the co-location of research and industry organisations.

Dr Brindley’s identification of the need for more government support for Earth Observation satellite builds is also referenced in the report.

The report mentions Professor Ochieng’s concerns that warm words from government must turn into a practicable implementation plan if the National Space Strategy is to be a success. At the evidence session in November 2021, Professor Ochieng said:

All the right words are there—what we should be and what we should be doing as a country. What is missing is how we do it and how we actualise it. That is what I cannot find.

These remarks underpin the Committee’s Recommendations 32 and 33, which call on the Government to release its implementation plan for the National Space Strategy no later than February 2023.

Space research at Imperial College London

The citations for Imperial College London researchers in the Committee report reflect the diversity of space and satellite-related research being conducted across multiple departments within the College.

Professor Ochieng leads the College’s research into Position, Navigation and Timing. Dr Eastwood leads the Imperial-X in Space research project into novel applications of AI and space technology. Dr Brindley is part of the large cross-faculty Earth Observation Network , which fosters collaboration and idea-sharing on topics such as satellites and Earth observation.

Policymakers with an interest in space, satellite technology and related fields can contact the Imperial Policy Forum to discuss where the College’s research maps on to current policy priorities and to connect with relevant Imperial expertise.