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ESA BIC UK provides an expert environment to rocket start-ups to success

Open Cosmos team

The growing Open Cosmos team, pictured in STFC’s Atlas Building, Harwell Campus.
(Credit: Open Cosmos)

Challenging the perception that space technologies are cumbersome and slow, Open Cosmos makes it possible for companies to test new technologies and apps in space, from as little as £500k, and launch within 10 months. The company prides itself on providing simple and affordable nanosatellite space missions to make space technology accessible to even the smallest of companies across the world. But only recently, Open Cosmos was itself a tiny company.


Rafael Jorda, CEO of Open Cosmos, was an entrepreneur living in London looking for a more suitable environment to grow his space mission business. After a recommendation from a space industry colleague, he brought Open Cosmos’ core team to STFC in 2016 to take advantage of the renowned ESA BIC UK programme and Harwell Space Cluster to realise his dream of providing simple, affordable space missions.

left-hand quote markBeing part of the ESA BIC UK was one of the best decisions we took in the early Open Cosmos days. The support we received from the programme and the STFC team was outstanding.right-hand quote mark

Rafael Jorda Siquier, CEO


  • Technical support from STFC and ESA scientists and engineers, including world-leading space testing facilities
  • Business support programme
  • Connections into STFC, ESA and Harwell Campus networks
  • £41,500 incentive funding to accelerate progress towards market
  • Access to the best space talent
  • Serviced offices in leading space science and innovation campus.


Being located on one of STFC’s leading science and innovation campuses enabled Open Cosmos to learn from and collaborate with many organisations related to space. Knowledgeable STFC staff and fruitful networking opportunities provided the connections into organisations such as RAL Space and the Satellite Applications Catapult, giving Open Cosmos access to the best space talent as well as facilities and expertise to develop its nanosatellite platform business.

Now operating with 38 employees, Open Cosmos has remained within STFC property on Harwell Campus and has achieved a series of impressive milestones including: launching its first nanosatellite from the International Space Station; winning a contract with ESA to become the first Space Mission Provider (SMP) on the ESA Pioneer partner programme; raising more than US$7 million in funding; and winning a major contract with the Satellite Applications Catapult for its In-Orbit Demonstration Programme.

Last updated: 05 October 2018


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