News Hub

First-of-its-kind data centre announced for UK space innovation

Written by Wed 29 Nov 2023

Data centre provider, the Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS), and the UK Space Agency have announced a first-of-its-kind data centre for next-generation artificial intelligence (AI), space engineering, robotics, and simulation.

Funded by the UK Space Agency’s Space Cluster Infrastructure Fund (SCIF), the CFMS will launch the Collaborative Space Data Centre (CoSDaC) pilot project. This initiative aims to address critical gaps in data centre services tailored to the unique requirements of space engineering.

A surge in large-scale and ambitious space missions is underway as the cost of access to space decreases. This trend is accompanied by an increasing reliance on innovative technologies such as AI and robotics.

“The new Collaborative Space Data Centre pilot will … create new opportunities for regional growth and foster strategic global collaborations that could help develop new solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges,” said Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive at the UK Space Agency.

CoSDaC will deliver data centre computing to address space engineering challenges. This includes tasks such as custom hardware-in-the-loop testing and extremely remote deployments of AI systems.

Complex concept development and testing will be carried out at a massive scale using digital prototyping. This will be underpinned by compute-intensive physics-based simulations.

This project combines advanced CPUs, GPUs, simulation software, robots, and dedicated space hardware to fill an emerging void in the space industry.

It is believed to be a first-of-its-kind dedicated asset within the national and wider European Space Agency (ESA) landscape. The data centre is set to complement existing and forthcoming strategic academic and commercial resources.

The CFMS said the one-year project aims to lead the way for the next generation of space data centres to meet the evolving demands of space engineering. 

Demand for software and radio frequency engineering experts has decreased over the last three years, while AI and data analysis increased.

“The CoSDaC project … will provide the industry with an adaptable compute facility essential for space engineering. This project will support the Space West Cluster Leadership Group in meeting its strategic objectives whilst accelerating UK efforts to improve global collaboration,” said Dr Mark Woods, Chief Strategy Officer at CFMS.

Within the project, CFMS will partner with planetary geology specialists from The Open University to demonstrate AI-based data classification for Mars exploration applications. The CoSDaC pilot project will start in January 2024.

The announcement of the CoSDaC project followed the UK Space Agency’s Space Sector Skills Survey 2023 which found that nearly a quarter (21%)of those in the industry need AI and machine learning skills. Meanwhile, nearly all space organisations (95%) experience skills-related issues.

Hungry for more tech news?

Sign up for your weekly tech briefings!

Written by Wed 29 Nov 2023

Send us a correction Send us a news tip