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Robert Lightfoot, Executive Vice President Lockheed Martin Space, with Professor John Woodward, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University.
Robert Lightfoot, Executive Vice President Lockheed Martin Space, with Professor John Woodward, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University.

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Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University join forces to support the development of space skills, research and technology

Global aerospace and security company, Lockheed Martin, has today announced a collaboration with Northumbria University that includes a £630,000 investment to support the development of skills, research and technology across the region.

Space and solar physics research is an area of excellence at Northumbria University and the University has invested heavily in recent years in world class facilities and leading experts to drive its research and education in this area.

Lockheed Martin’s investment forms part of a wider £7m investment into engineering facilities for research and teaching at Northumbria, funded by the Office for Students, the UK Space Agency and the University itself.

This investment will help to put Northumbria University, the city of Newcastle and the wider North East in a strong position to be a leader in the global space economy, supporting new research, developing innovative technologies for export, and generating skills for a high growth sector.

Lockheed Martin is initially set to invest in two strategic projects including finding new ways to transmit power to enable wireless charging of satellites, and for new forms of inter-satellite communications. It will also sponsor two PhDs in solar physics.

The initiative comes hot on the heels of a similar collaboration between Lockheed Martin and RTC North that aims to give small and medium enterprises greater access to UK, US and global programmes.

Lockheed Martin continues to build plans to expand its manufacturing space operations in the UK and is exploring options to establish a new research, development and satellite manufacturing facility which would support up to 2,300 jobs for the North East.

Paul Livingston, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK, said, “I am delighted to announce our initial collaboration with Northumbria University, which demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to investing in a long-term space industrial base in the UK. Our plans will grow the UK as a space nation, help it become a science and technology superpower, and contribute to Levelling-Up the economy.”

Professor John Woodward, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, added: “We are excited to develop our relationship with Lockheed Martin and look forward to working with them on satellite technology, space science research, and enriching our portfolio to deliver high-quality satellite-skills-related education.

“Lockheed Martin is a global leader in aeronautic, space and satellite research, partnering with the likes of NASA and the UK and European Space Agencies with whom we already work. We are delighted that Lockheed Martin recognise the expertise in satellite and space technology within Northumbria University and the potential for the wider North East region.”

The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University follows a successful Space Skills and Suppliers Summit, which was held in Newcastle in March, in partnership with Invest North East England. The summit brought together potential new partners from industry and academia keen to work on initiatives linked with growing the UK space sector.

Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said that Lockheed Martin’s collaboration with Northumbria University would ensure the region has the skills and capability to drive forward the Government’s National Space Strategy, and would showcase the talent and innovation within the North East.

Ms Winskell said: “The number of North East businesses actively working in the space and satellite sector continues to grow. The investment by Lockheed Martin in the new North East Space Skills and Technology centre will open the door for businesses of all sizes to support the growth and expansion of this emerging sector.

“Our region’s growing infrastructure supporting the sector, which includes the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence in County Durham, is helping position the North East has a leading destination for space research, innovation and technology.”

Pam Smith, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council, said that the new collaboration showed global confidence in the North East, commenting: “We want a city where all our residents have the opportunity to access quality jobs, training and education in new and emerging industries and that’s why this collaboration is fantastic news for Newcastle and the wider region.

“This demonstrates the confidence global investors have in Newcastle and its world-leading educational institutions, like Northumbria University which is one the UK’s leading modern research-intensive universities.

“This latest development has the potential to make the North East of England a major player in this growing global sector and support local jobs for local residents.”

Lockheed Martin is also a strategic partner to the UK government, and is working with the UK Space Agency to conduct northern Europe’s first vertical satellite launch from the recently-approved SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a wealth of jobs and injecting millions into the UK economy.

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