UK space missions: case studies and programmes

The UK Space Agency funds a variety of space missions and programmes. This collection lists programme information and mission case studies.

Earth Observation

The UK is involved in a variety of missions that help us understand and monitor how our planet is changing. Data from these missions helps support environmental management and aid efforts.

International Partnership Programme

The International Partnership Programme (IPP) is a 5 year, £152 million programme run by the UK Space Agency. IPP uses the UK Space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies. IPP is funded from the BEIS Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). As GCRF forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) ring-fenced budget, IPP is required to be fully ODA compliant and will be delivered in line with the UN sustainability goals.

IPP is running a call for proposals to select 1 successful bid (that can include multiple organisations) to deliver a “satellite-enabled data services public policy course”.

‘Satellite-enabled data services: public policy course’ is a call for bidders to deliver a course which will increase the knowledge and confidence of DAC list country Public Administrators to develop and exploit satellite data services as a policy delivery tool within their departments. It would do so by addressing possible uses of satellite data, the underlying techniques, the programmatic, fiscal and operational consequences and the types of policy improvements that could be measured and delivered. The course must build confidence through trusted advice about practical and meaningful examples and outlining evidence of opportunities and challenges.

For more information visit the International Partnership Programme page.

National Space Technology Programme (NSTP)

The National Space Technology Programme is a capability programme encouraging the development of space technology in the UK space sector. The programme offers support by funding industry, academia and other (not for profit) government institutions, who are looking to develop technology and build new capabilities for the UK Space sector.

General Support Technology Programme (GSTP)

The General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) is an ESA programme aimed at the development of new and innovative space technologies.

GSTP has over 25 years of heritage. In this time the programme has fostered novel technologies from concept to mission, enabling and supporting the growth of companies and their supply chains throughout the UK. The UK Space Agency’s GSTP team engage with a wide variety companies and organisations from start-ups through to large space companies, as well as the academic community, either on an individual basis or as collaborative entities.

There is a range of support available, including the invitation to tender process (ITT); these are regularly issued and can be found on ESA’s EMITS website. This is a competitive process and you will need to have secured our support for the activity before it is issued.

Pre-ITT activities may be found in the various compendia and you will also need the UK Space Agency’s endorsement for these activities. We also welcome proposals from companies which are not listed as ITTs or featured in the GSTP compendia.

Please contact to initiate discussions.

LaunchUK and spaceports

The UK’s satellite launch programme is helping to grow the UK space sector by enabling two new domestic markets:

  • a small-satellite launch market. This will allow launch vehicles to take small-satellites into space from UK spaceports.
  • a sub-orbital flight market. This will allow sub-orbital flights to take scientific experiments and people to the edge of space from UK spaceports.

Both markets will require the development of UK based spaceports, supply chains and supporting services. This will create growth, employment and opportunity, for local communities, UK industry and academia.

As well as developing regulation, the Government is working with international partners, UK industry, local government and the global space sector to support the creation of both markets. The programme is being delivered by the UK Space Agency in partnership with the Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and supported by the Health and Safety Executive.

Find out how we are promoting and regulating spaceflight from the UK

Space Exploration Programme

This is a list of space exploration missions that the UK Space Agency invests in. Our participation in the majority of these missions is through our investment in the European Space Agency.

Space for Smarter Government

The Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) is a strategic, national, Programme established in 2014, led and funded by the UK Space Agency. It is delivered in collaboration with the Satellite Applications Catapult to drive the uptake and use of space products, data and services across government departments. The Programme aims to increase the public sector’s use of space as an enabling technology to stimulate innovation and growth whilst at same time making government more efficient and ‘smarter’.

For more information please visit our website

Space Science Programme

Our Space Science Programme supports the design, development and operation of scientific payloads and associated ground based data processing facilities for missions in ESA’s mandatory Science Programme and other international collaborations, with a view to maximising the UK’s economic and scientific return on investment.

ESA Technology Harmonisation

ESA Technology Harmonisation produces ESAs technology roadmaps. Each member state has a delegate who feeds in the companies, products, capabilities, and strategic interests of their national sector across over 50 technology areas. Harmonisation does not lead directly to funding, but proposed activities are assigned prospective funding programmes, and approximately 40% of these are funded. Harmonisation can also provide industrial intelligence allowing companies to exit a market or hone a niche.

Via your delegate you can access completed roadmaps from previous years, participate in championing the UK space sector, identify collaboration opportunities, get your activity and capability recognised Europe wide, and access the space sector if you’re not already involved.

You can contact the current UK delegate for Harmonisation, Tony Mears, at

Published 9 May 2014
Last updated 19 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Case studies updated (Earth Observation, Space Exploration).

  2. Commercial spaceflight document collection added to page.

  3. Event link updated.

  4. Link to Launch UK event added.

  5. Satellite Launch Programme guidance added to GOV UK.

  6. New International Partnership Programme case studies added.

  7. Added case studies

  8. ExoMars case study added to the space science mission collection.

  9. First published.