A Llanbedr-based project aimed at boosting the space sector in Wales will receive funding from the UK Space Agency.

Space Wales’ Dark Sky Observatory will receive £36,000 to explore the potential for a space observatory and planetarium to be established in Snowdonia, taking advantage of the area being part of the most extensive dark skies reserve in the UK.

The Welsh space sector includes 59 space organisations that generate £42 million in income to the UK economy each year. 

The Gwynedd project is among 18 new schemes across the UK which will harness space-enabled technology to address local priorities, such as using Earth Observation data to improve local public services and help innovative engineering companies access the UK’s growing space markets.

Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, said: “These projects will tap into the wealth of talent found in places like Cornwall and the east Midlands, as well as across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while using space and satellite technology to support local communities.

“This funding will help link local clusters to valuable networks of innovators and investors, showcasing the strengths of the UK space sector to international investors and levelling up the economy.”

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “It’s great to see UK Government investment going to projects like the Snowdonia Spaceport. This money will be used to unlock the potential of the most extensive dark skies reserve in the UK.

“I look forward to following the progression of the proposed Dark Skies Observatory in Snowdonia and hearing more about this exciting project as plans are developed.”

The projects are focused on piloting local activity that could be scaled up and rolled out nationally and are being supported by the UK Space Agency’s delivery partner the Satellite Applications Catapult.

£200,000 has also been given for a space cluster development manager to help the space sector grow across Wales.

The funding follows £600,000 given to 10 space clusters across the UK in February 2022, with some of those who received funding then getting further support this time round.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Wales’ space ecosystem is well placed to grasp the opportunities from the growing global space sector, thanks to its strong advanced manufacturing and technology base. Its universities are already involved in world-class space research and it has growing strengths in satellite technology. Our new funding for a space cluster manager and support for the plans for a space observatory and planetarium in Snowdonia will accelerate the development of this fast-growing space ecosystem and help realise its full economic potential.

“Informed by our work with areas across the UK to understand the strengths and needs of local space economies, we are backing a wide range of clusters of excellence to forge new collaborations, grow and thrive.”