Ivan McKee, Scotland’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, has officially opened the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering space research lab during a ceremony today.
The Integrated Space and Exploration Technology Laboratory, housed in the University’s James Watt South building, has received around £100,000 in upgrades over the past few months and will be the future home of ambitious space-related research projects.
The centre is part of the University’s Space Glasgow network, which brings together engineers, physicists, geologists, mathematicians and computer scientists on cross-disciplinary space research projects.
Projects focusing on micro-spacecraft technologies, which can build large structures in orbit; tunnelling robots to explore other planets or asteroids; and ultrasonic drills capable of operating on Mars and low-gravity environments are some of the innovative projects already underway at the centre.
Research at the lab is supported by around £2 million in funding from a host of agencies, including the UK Space Agency and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The upgraded lab will now provide researchers with access to hi-tech facilities, which include a vacuum chamber, a clean room for delicate engineering projects and a groundbreaking device known as a Helmholtz cage – which can simulate the Earth’s magnetic field in orbit.
A device such as this is particularly useful for researchers developing devices and technology for use in space.
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During the opening ceremony, McKee met researchers from the University’s School of Engineering learn more about projects focusing on a range of key areas, such as orbital dynamics, access to space and landing technologies.
“I am delighted to open the new Integrated Space and Exploration Technology Laboratory at the University of Glasgow,” he said. “Scotland already has an innovative and diverse engineering base, with world-class companies competing in international markets.
“This new lab will play a vital role to support the development of the sector in Scotland and I am pleased to see the University of Glasgow supporting these ambitions by providing exciting new opportunities for their students.”
Professor David Cumming, head of the University’s School of Engineering, commented: “Our Space Systems Research Group represents a wide range of engineering expertise and involves partners from industry including Alba Orbital and Craft Prospect.
“We’re looking forward to exploring the opportunities our facilities will offer us as we develop exciting new space technologies.”