Kent joins Space East

Student using telescope at Beacon Observatory

Kent is to become part of Space East, the rapidly growing cluster group for the space sector in the East of England, which has recently expanded to include the county of Kent.

The University will add to Space East’s expertise and studies in space and satellite technology to support regional agriculture and food industries with ambitions to develop space-based agriculture to support human habitation in space .

As a member of Space East, the University will contribute to data sharing across academic projects and improve the application of space technology for the region and the UK. The cluster also provides an exciting opportunity for the University and business communities across the Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent to increase their networks and unlock new partnership opportunities, especially the 160 plus companies based at the Kent Discovery Park working across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, healthcare, technology and professional services sectors. The University will host a launch event for local businesses, academia and cluster members in June to help shape an action plan.

Kent has an impressive history of space research, with its internationally renowned School of Physics and Astronomy having delivered leading science subjects for over 50 years. As a member of the Eastern Arc, Kent already has a strategic collaboration between founding academic cluster members the universities of East Anglia and Essex.

Space East has also appointed Nigel Mason, Professor of Molecular Physics, as the University’s lead representative. Professor Mason has had leadership roles in many national and international research programmes and is the lead coordinator of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure, Europe’s largest forum for planetary sciences. Outside Europe, he works with the emerging space communities in India and Africa.

Professor Mason said: ‘I’m delighted that the county and the University of Kent have joined Space East, providing the opportunity for researchers and businesses to collaborate across the region with an emphasis on using space to support agriculture and developing materials to be used across the space sector.

‘Kent has long been the UK’s gateway to Europe – I hope it will also become one of the UK’s gateways to space.’

Stuart Catchpole, Cluster Manager of Space East, says: ‘The heartbeat of any cluster is its community and the opportunities presented by its diverse membership, engagement, knowledge capabilities and expertise. We’re delighted that Kent and the University of Kent, through Professor Nigel Mason OBE has joined Space East, growing the cluster and providing even greater opportunities for our members to connect, collaborate and exchange knowledge to drive forward the space economy in our region.

‘We’re particularly excited to explore how space technology can support the terrestrial agricultural sector as well as space farming.’