The government is pledging an initial £2.6m to the UK space industry to support new coronavirus efforts.

It said that satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, managing infectious disease outbreaks and supporting the health and wellbeing of the nation.

The project is a joint initiative between the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of

Medical drones have been tested before by the UK’s Royal Navy. Last year saw a partnership between its Royal Marines Commando force and defence technology company Anduril Industries (pictured above).

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From new advanced software helping speed up cancer diagnoses to satellite communications connecting GPs to patients virtually, the UK space sector has been world leading in applying its innovations to supporting our brilliant NHS.

“This new funding will ensure that the latest innovations will be on the frontline of tackling the unique problems the coronavirus outbreak has created, helping medical staff to focus on delivering world-class care.”

The UK Space Agency said space-enabled solutions could include satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.

Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in Oxfordshire, said: “Even in normal times, satellites and space technology offer solutions to our needs in connectivity and inclusion, in resilience and logistics, and to support healthcare provision in even the most extreme situations.

“The current circumstances challenge the space business community to show just how much it can offer, to help us through this a once in a century event. Speed is of the essence, so let us act without delay.”

The UK Space Agency and UKspace trade body are also working together to help the space sector respond to the coronavirus pandemic.