The European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK government have signed an agreement in principle to develop an ESA research centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus (HSIC) in Oxfordshire, UK. The aim is for the research centre to be up and running within a year.

Keith Mason, chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the major partners in HSIC, said, “STFC welcome this significant announcement, as I’m sure the UK space community will. The development of an ESA centre at the Harwell Science Innovation Campus is a direct result of the UK’s strong record in space, both within industry and in academia.”

The proposed space centre will place an emphasis on exploiting the benefits of space to terrestrial users, and knowledge exchange and development to support the future ESA programme. It will take full advantage of the unique environment being created at the Harwell Science & Innovation Campus where state-of-the-art publicly funded scientific facilities will operate alongside industrial research and development.

Once established the new centre will expand ESA’s existing pan European infrastructure facilities by enabling the agency to develop key technologies and capabilities, particularly new work on climate change modelling that uses space data and the development of technologies for a new era of planetary exploration, including robotics and novel power sources.