The UK Ministry of Defence has initiated a study into the use of low-cost satellite launchers to deploy small military satellites to deliver communication or Earth-observation capabilities to a disaster-affected region or theatre of conflict, writes Rob Coppinger.

"The advent of space tourism has meant that what had been seen as a horrendous prime cost might become something more affordable," says the MoD's research and technology director-general Professor Philip Sutton.

UK space tourism provider Virgin Galactic has proposed a satellite-launching two-stage rocket that would be air launched from its planned White Knight Two carrier aircraft, while UK launcher developer Starchaser Industries has opened offices in the USA to access test launch facilities for its rockets.

Source: Flight International