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UK Space Agency Participation in CASTOR Telescope Project Moves Forward

CASTOR space telescope. Credit: CASCA.

In April of this year the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA) signed an Memorandum of Understanding that included potential partnerships through the UKSA’s Science & Exploration Bilateral Programme. Now, we know that one of those areas where the partnership is moving forward is with the Canadian led CASTOR Telescope project. The UKSA has been working towards new bilateral programs since January 2023.

The Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and uv Research (CASTOR) telescope is a proposed “1-meter class space telescope concept on a small satellite platform that would make a unique contribution to astrophysics by providing wide field, high-resolution imaging in the UV and optical spectral region, surpassing any ground-based optical telescope in image sharpness.”

In update to members, the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) outlined details of the UK Space Agency’s involvement in CASTOR.

According to CASCA UK Space Agency “funds have been already approved and are being used for UK science definition, detector testing, and development work on data flows and optics. On May 13-14, a UKSA delegation visited CSA, Montreal universities and Honeywell Aerospace, and then hosted a reception in Ottawa. UK-led science definition work focuses on TDAMM, galaxies, near-field cosmology and solar system science; an initial coordination meeting between the Canadian and UK science teams was held on June 13.”

Around the same time, CASCA says “the final review meeting of the three-year Space Technology Development Program contract, led by ABB, was held on May 16. This contract elevated the TRLs for several technically challenging mission components, with significant work done on the opto-mechanical design, the Focal Plane Arrays, the Fast Steering mirror prototyping, the precision photometer, grism, and UVMOS. After many months, formal export licences to share these details with the UK and LAM partners have been approved.”

The CASTOR Telescope is still in the preliminary planning phase. According to CASCA “plans are being developed with CSA to define Phase A statement-of-work items (or a dedicated subset for an earlier contract, depending on CASTOR funding). CSA-NRC joint agreements on funding and planning shared activities is also in detailed negotiation. The final negotiation of all international partnerships still awaits government approval of the mission.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and Executive Vice President, Content of SpaceNews. Boucher has 25+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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