Powering the next generation of rocket scientists

16/05/23 | Sector/Industry News, Tenant News

Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is proud to announce its sponsorship of the national propulsion competition UK Race2Space which is aimed at inspiring students and giving them the skills needed to join the space industry.

The competition, which is organised by the University of Sheffield, is taking place at Westcott Venture Park from 3-7 July and will be the first competition worldwide to focus on the development of bio propellant and hybrid rocket engines.

Students from universities across the UK will take part in the week-long UK Race2Space event where they will hot-fire rocket engines they have designed and built on a test stand at Westcott Space Cluster within the Westcott Enterprise Zone.

Race2Space is also hosting a Student Rocket Engine Symposium - a space sector education networking event where academics, students and industry will come together to see the results of the competition.  The Satellite Applications Catapult is hosting the networking event.

Alistair John, Deputy Director of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield, who is organising the competition, said: “We are grateful for the support the Bucks LEP is providing for this event which will help to provide the critical training needed to fill the high-level skills gap for students entering the space industry. 

“UK Race2Space is about showing we have top class students who are willing, able and prepared to grow the space sector in the UK. We know we have the talent in the UK but to compete on the world stage we need to increase the number of passionate, highly skilled graduates entering the sector.”

The competition aims not only to inspire students to pursue space science and engineering, but also to encourage a more diverse range of students to choose science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, aiming for careers in the rapidly growing £15bn UK space sector.

Four rocketry companies based at Westcott Venture Park will take part in the event including European AstrotechProtolaunch and Airborne Engineering with propellant handling training provided by Plastron based at Westcott Innovation Centre.

The competition is supported by the UK Space Agency and funded by sponsors including Buckinghamshire LEP, the University of Sheffield, Element Digital Engineering and  Frazer Nash Consultancy.

Matt Peachey, Head of Enterprise Zone Development at Buckinghamshire LEP, said: "We are pleased to provide sponsorship to support this event which is an important step towards increasing the skillset and knowledge of students to generate a pipeline of talent for the space industry.  

“Skills support and development is central to creating the conditions for sustained innovation, excellence, and growth for our Buckinghamshire businesses. This sponsorship demonstrates our commitment to developing the skills of the next generation of engineers and inspiring them to pursue space science and engineering careers in Buckinghamshire.

“Race2Space is also a great example of companies from within the Westcott Enterprise Zone working together to provide students with hands-on experience of space science and engineering, showing them the range of opportunities out there.”

Kathie Bowden, Education and Outreach Team, UK Space Agency said: “The development of skills which will support the sector and the government’s ambitions for the UK in space are a crucial and fundamental part of the national space strategy.”

For more information about the event visit https://www.racetospace.org.uk and for sponsorship opportunities contact Alistair John at a.john@sheffield.ac.uk

Image shows Airborne Engineering’s firing on the test site Race2Space is using in the competition.

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