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NSTP-2 Call for Sub-Orbital and Small Launcher Research Proposals

On behalf of the UK Space Agency, the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation and Space Technology (CEOI-ST) invites proposals for industrial research projects that will contribute to the introduction of sub-orbital flight and satellite launch operations in the UK, as part of the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP).

Following the publication of the UK’s National Space Policy, the Government intends to provide support for research into spaceflight. In particular the UK government has the ambition to establish a spaceport in the UK and is examining the case for commercial spaceflight and small satellite launch activities, as set out in the recently published National Space Policy. This Call aims to develop the growth of the UK space sector by funding research into commercial sub-orbital flight and small satellite launch systems that are intended to operate from the UK.

The objective of this call is to investigate the challenges with the introduction and operation of such services in the UK, to investigate solutions that could be commercially viable and to identify the underpinning technology developments required to support these activities.

Proposals should involve research projects that will:

  • determine how sub-orbital or small satellite launch vehicles primarily designed for operation outside of the UK can be adapted to operate on a commercial basis in the UK, and/or;
  • develop capabilities in the UK that will increase the UK’s ability to operate sub-orbital or small satellite launch services, and/or;
  • identify the technology developments that will be needed and how UK companies can play a significant role in the supply chain for future sub-orbital and small satellite launch systems.


The Call seeks proposals for research and development projects with grants typically in the range of £150,000 to £250,000 that will complete within 6 months. Matched funding will be required from industrial bidders in accordance with EU State Aid Regulations.

Bidders should provide CEOI-ST with notification of their intention to bid into this call as described in the Announcement of Opportunity (AofO) document. This information will be held in strict confidence. It will assist in the efficient evaluation of bids and ensure that bidders can receive any related information during the bid period.

If you are not intending to lead a bid, but would like to be considered as a potential partner in a bid led by another organisation, please indicate what skills and/or capability you could offer using the pro-forma, available below. Your details as prospective partners will then be published on this page of the CEOI-ST website for consideration for contact by the lead bidders.

The timescale is:

  • Release of Call – 5 January 2016                                   
  • Notification of Capability to be Offered – 22 January 2016 (noon)
  • Notification of Intention to Bid – 29 January (noon)
  • Closing date – 16 February (noon)
  • Proposal selection – during February 2016
  • Projects typically starting – from March 2016

Full details of the Call are contained in the 'Announcement of Opportunity' document, which is available on the CEOI website, together with the other bid documents.