Project Nyx Alpha: Boosting UK Space Command’s Domain Awareness

Foreign Affairs

London:- United Kingdom’s Space Command is in line to boost its space domain awareness capabilities following a deal announced by the Ministry of Defence November  22 for a small London-based company to set up and operate a ground-based telescope in Cyprus.

Known as Project Nyx Alpha, the capability being provided by British space technology company SpaceFlux will enable Space Command and the UK Space Agency to accurately monitor the fast growing number of satellites and debris in orbit. The British plan to have the system in play by spring 2024, re-establishing a former capability that had lapsed.

Spaceflux will build, maintain, and routinely operate the system tasked by UK Space Command and UK Space Agency analysts from the soon to launch UK Space Operations Centre at the Royal Air Force base at High Wycombe, southern England, said the MoD in a statement. The centre has planned to coordinate civilian and military space domain awareness capabilities to enable operations and protect UK interests like the Skynet satellite communications network from space-related threats and hazards.

Announcing the deal at the UK Space conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, the head of the UK Space Command said the new capability was a key part in helping Britain defend its interests in space.

“Space domain awareness underpins our ability to protect and defend UK and allied interests in space. The UK has critical assets in geostationary orbit, and Project Nyx Alpha will help us to monitor them more closely”, he said.

To support military and civil missions in space Godfrey also announced that the British have procured space domain awareness data from Spaceflux, as well as Raytheon Systems.

On its website Spaceflux says it offers access to the largest optical taskable sensors currently available in the market, with telescopes up to 70-cm in diameter, allowing the detection of the faintest objects from LEO to GEO and Cislunar. The website says the company is rapidly expanding its network to 10 locations this year and a total of 25 locations by the end of 2024.

Cyprus was chosen as the location for the British telescope due to the fact it provides a better view of the geostationary orbit than sites on the UK mainland said the MoD statement. The UK already have a major military base on the eastern Mediterranean island.