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Space at Harwell: International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC)


ISIC is a new initiative funded jointly by the public sector and industry. It will help focus the UK's considerable, but currently fragmented, strength in the space sector, contributing to the goal of doubling the UK space market by 2020.

International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC). Credit: STFC
International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC).
Credit: STFC

The centre will provide a new environment where government, universities and industry can work together to make the most of scientific opportunities and create new technologies, applications, and Intellectual Property (IP) that exploits UK, European and Global Space Programmes.

ISIC will be an integral component of the Harwell Oxford Science and Innovation Campus. It will link space activities with the breadth of research undertaken on our world-leading large facilities such as the Diamond Light Source and the ISIS neutron spallation source.

ISIC will act as a portal for international access, partnership and collaboration and a melting pot for ideas driven by open innovation.

Download the latest ESA Harwell newsletter. (PDF, 660 Kb)  

Earth Observation Hub for ISIC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council, which is leading the ISIC project, has recently (21 July 2010) awarded a contract to form the first key element of the ISIC, an Earth Observation (EO) Hub. The £4.9m contract has been awarded to a consortium led by top space company Astrium to develop an end-to-end operations centre on the Harwell campus with the ability to run cost effective satellite flight operations and payload data processing and exploitation. The EO Hub will pave the way for a better understanding of our planet and growth in the industrial sector underpinning this work.

Visualisation Centre

The ISIC Visualisation Centre is establishing a unique and high profile facility to deliver interactive visualisation of Earth Observation, space science and other data for scientific, economic and societal benefit.  It is an integral part of the vision for end-to-end EO capabilities located at ISIC, tightly linked to the EO Hub and associated ground segment. The capabilities of this unit include the ability to integrate, explore and visualise the vast amount of EO data coming on-stream for scientific, commercial and outreach purposes. 

European Space Agency (ESA) UK

At the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial level in November 2008, ESA and British National Space Centre (now the UK Space Agency) concluded an ‘agreement in principle’ for the Agency to establish a permanent presence at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

The facility at Harwell is a new departure for ESA, being the first time that it has set up for business at an existing large science and technology facility. Officially inaugurated by ESA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain on 22 July 2009, the centre’s manager is Martin Ditter.

The centre is part of the vision to embed the ESA facility into a wider International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC).

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The UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space.

The UK's thriving space sector contributes £9.1 billion a year to the UK economy and directly employs 28,900 with an average growth rate of almost 7.5%. (The Size and Health of the UK Space Sector 2010/11, preliminary survey results.)

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