in Space

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

Posted 23 November 2023

The Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS) and the UK Space Agency have unveiled a pioneering pilot data centre for next generation space engineering, robotics, simulation and AI.

Image courtesy CFMS.

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

With the cost of access to space decreasing, a surge in large-scale and ambitious space missions is underway, increasing reliance on innovative technologies such as AI and robotics. Complex concept development and testing will be carried out at a massive scale using digital prototyping underpinned by compute-intensive physics-based simulations.

CoSDaC will deliver data centre level computing to address these and other space engineering challenges, such as custom, hardware-in-the-loop testing and extremely remote deployments of AI systems. 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 complementing existing and forthcoming strategic academic and commercial resources.

Starting in January 2024, this one year project aims to lead the way for the next generation of space data centres, meeting the evolving demands of space engineering. Within the project, CFMS partners with planetary geology specialists from the Open University to demonstrate AI based data classification for Mars exploration applications.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “From AI to robotics, the new Collaborative Space Data Centre pilot will support the next generation of space engineering, using the recognised expertise of CFMS to further strengthen the Space West cluster. This 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.

“It is a brilliant demonstration of the potential of our thriving space sector across the UK to develop innovative infrastructure that helps us deliver increasingly ambitious missions and capabilities.

“The Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund highlights the government’s commitment to space and will help deliver the goal set out in the National Space Strategy to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, developing new skills and creating jobs.”
Dr Mark Woods, Chief Strategy Officer at the CFMS, said: “We are proud to be leading and developing the CoSDaC project, with strong backing from the UK Space Agency, which 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.”





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