CLYDE Space, which has built Scotland's first satellite, has revealed plans to treble its manufacturing and design space and announced record annual orders of about £3 million.

Craig Clark, founder and chief executive officer of Glasgow-based Clyde Space, yesterday unveiled new orders worth hundreds of thousands of pounds from the United States Air Force Academy and the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.

He highlighted plans to open an office in the US, probably in California, within the next 12 months to capitalise on opportunities in that market-place.

Loading article content

Mr Clark outlined the company's desire to treble the size of its manufacturing and design space to 10,000 square feet on the back of increasing demand for its "pace-setting products". Clyde Space, founded in 2005 and located at West of Scotland Science Park, is currently looking for larger premises in Glasgow.

The company produces small satellite, nanosatellite and "CubeSat" systems - fully functional satellites which "piggy-back" on other launches to minimise costs and boost the commercial viability of space research.

Mr Clark, Clyde Space's largest shareholder, said the order total of about £3m achieved in the current financial year to April 30 was more than double the intake in the previous 12 months.

Confirming the company has been in the black this financial year, he added: "We are doing really quite well at the moment in terms of profit. We are finally making money from what we do, which is great. It is quite a high-tech company. There has been quite a lot of product development over the years."

Mr Clark is looking forward to the launch of Scotland's first satellite, UKube-1, which was designed and manufactured by Clyde Space. Having been put back from February 10, the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket is now scheduled for June 19.

UKube-1 is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia, and is envisaged as the pilot for a full national CubeSat programme. CubeSats have a typical mass of four kilogrammes and dimensions of around 100 millimetres by 100mm by 340mm.

Mr Clark said: "The sooner it's launched the better because it will show our capabilities."

Payloads in UKube-1 include the first Global Positioning System device to measure plasmaspheric space weather, and a camera that will take images of Earth and test the effect of radiation on space hardware using a new generation of imaging sensor. UKube-1 will also carry a payload comprising five experiments with which UK students and the public can interact.

Clyde Space said its order from the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, worth €300,000 (£250,000), was for a full-mission CubeSat.

The Belgian institute specialises in the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere of Earth, and other planets and outer space. The CubeSat's payload will include a hyperspectral imager, capable of measuring the composition of the atmosphere.

Clyde Space said the order from the US Air Force Academy was for solar panels and reaction wheels, which control the pointing direction of a satellite, for the FalconSAT-6 programme. It added that the order was worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The company, which employs about 30 people, said FalconSAT-6 included a multi-mode flight experiment designed to prove the effectiveness of multiple thrust modes.

Clyde Space also revealed it had recently won another order from a US company, for a five-kilowatt electrical power system for a small satellite project. It said that it could not name the US company because of commercial sensitivity.

Mr Clark said: "The increase in orders is not only an indication that the small satellite market is growing, but also that we are offering the right kind of products and services for that market. It's also very ­encouraging to note that many of our new orders are from repeat customers."

Clyde Space has private equity investors Nevis Capital and Coralinn as minority shareholders.

Hugh Stewart, who is chairman of Clyde Space and managing partner of Coralinn, said: "Clyde Space is one of Scotland's most innovative companies.

"The growing number of prestigious contracts it is winning is a fantastic example of how a small Scottish company can compete globally in leading-edge manufacturing. Its strategy is for continued growth and we hope to open in the US in the next year."

Asked whether Clyde Space could obtain larger premises in West of Scotland Science Park, Mr Clark replied: "We are really trying to stay on the park but we are finding that quite difficult, so we are looking further afield now. We are finding that commercial property in Glasgow for the type of business we are - we are high-value manufacturing - is not easy to come by. It is either offices or warehouses."

However, highlighting Clyde Space's intention to remain in its home city, he added: "Definitely our plan is to stay in Glasgow."

Mr Clark said the planned US office was likely to employ one or two people initially.

He added: "The US is quite an interesting place to have a space business because they obviously have much larger budgets for space than we have in the UK, and there are more opportunities.

"There is work out there that can only be done in the US so you have to get your company out there."