In exciting news yesterday, the UK Space Agency announced £50m in funding for UK companies who are aiming to develop communication and navigation services for missions to the Moon. This is part of ESA's Moonlight programme which aims to have a constellation of communications satellites around the Moon to allow future astronauts and lunar equipment to communicate, share data, and safely navigate the Moon's surface.

UK and Italy are the two leading investors in the programme. Companies involved in Moonlight will create a telecoms and navigation service for ESA whilst also being able to sell to other agencies and commercial companies.

Minister of State in the UK Department of Science, Technology and Innovation George Freeman said: “Space and satellite science and technology are at the forefront of our Science Superpower mission, which is why we have set out a 10 year Industrial Strategy for Space to attract the billions of commercial investment now coming into this sector, already worth £16.5 billion to the UK economy. This new funding will help UK companies provide satellite services for the fast-emerging lunar communications economy for years to come, deepening our international collaborations through ESA, kickstarting the lunar economy and inspiring a new generation of scientists and explorers.”

The UK already leads the Lunar Pathfinder project which is due to launch 2025 and provide communications services to the Moon.

All of this news comes in the context of the Artemis programme which aims to send astronauts back to the Moon in this decade, and thus to sustain human presence on the Moon we need communications technologies to maintain connectivity while humans are millions of miles from home. 

In Seraphim's In-Space Ecosystem Map we mapped out some of the space tech startups working in the lunar and cislunar communications arena - check it out here!