Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space to develop an Earth Observation Hub at the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC)

  • Airbus Defence and Space will prime the £4.9M project leading a UK team

  • EO Hub will provide the UK with an end to end ground capability 


Farnborough, 21 July 2010:  Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, has been selected by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to develop an Earth Observation (EO) Hub at the new International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) in Harwell, Oxfordshire.


The £4.9 million contract will see Airbus Defence and Space lead an industrial consortium, which will be responsible for the design and integration of an EO Hub. This will include a spacecraft operations centre, with the ability to coordinate multiple satellites, and a UK specific capability for payload data processing.

As the prime industrial contractor, Airbus Defence and Space’s team will include VEGA, the professional services company as core partner together with SSTL, the specialist small satellite manufacturer and Infoterra, a leader in geo-information products.

The development of the Hub will provide the UK with its own ground capability, a critical first step in establishing an overall sovereign EO capability, and a key recommendation of the recent ‘Space Innovation Growth Strategy’. The strategy was developed as a joint government, industry and academia initiative that set out a 20-year vision for the future growth of the UK space industry.

It is envisaged that the new EO hub will be amongst the first in Europe that will actively encourage direct collaboration between government, industry and academia in developing a centre of excellence for satellite operations and the acquisition of EO data, whilst providing new opportunities for products and user delivery.

Work on the design and installation of the EO Hub, which will be housed in the Electron Building at Harwell, will start immediately and is expected to be operational by March 2011.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willets said:

“The Earth Observation Hub will help UK scientists make the most of the wealth of information we are collecting about our home planet, in vital areas such as monitoring the effects of climate change or so we can respond quickly to natural disasters throughout the world.

 “It’s the important first step in making the International Space Innovation Centre a reality, linking regional space capabilities and promoting knowledge-sharing between academia and industry. This will support further growth in a sector already worth more than £6 billion a year to our economy.”

Colin Paynter, CEO, Airbus Defence and Space UK, said:

“The ability to observe our planet is crucial in monitoring climate change, responding effectively to natural disasters, and ensuring global security.

“At Airbus Defence and Space we have a strong heritage in developing EO missions and we look forward to working closely with STFC and our industrial partners in delivering a first class EO capability for the UK.”

The establishment of an EO Hub at Harwell will be funded through the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and will also include industrial and STFC contributions.

The ISIC together with the EO Hub forms part of the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. Harwell has the potential to become a key focal point for space in the UK. In recent months an executive UK Space Agency has been established and the European Space Agency has opened a research centre at the campus.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Astrid Emerit (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                        Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 36

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41 



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