The UK Space Agency has launched a new drive on Tuesday (14) to fund space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS response to coronavirus.
An initial £2.6 million is being made available to fund a number of projects to develop hi-tech solutions to the challenges, in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of NHS England.
Satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, managing infectious disease outbreaks to support the country’s health sector.
The space-enabled solutions could include satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From new advanced software helping speed up cancer diagnoses to satellite communications connecting GPs to patients virtually, the UK space sector has been world leading in applying its innovations to supporting our brilliant NHS.
“This new funding will ensure that the latest innovations will be on the frontline of tackling the unique problems the coronavirus outbreak has created, helping medical staff to focus on delivering world-class care.”
Meanwhile the UK Space Agency’s international partnership programme uses UK expertise to support healthcare projects all over the world, including forecasting and providing early warning of dengue fever outbreaks in Vietnam through Earth observation satellites and using telecommunications to extend the reach of basic medical healthcare into remote areas in Nigeria.
Space is already playing an important part in healthcare. UK start-up company Lanterne recently announced a free app to help people observe social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, using GPS satellite data and AI technologies.