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Innovation In County Durham

Matching what's needed with what's possible.
NorSS brings 16 years’ space expertise to the industry

NorSS brings 16 years’ space expertise to the industry

A SPECIALIST space awareness and surveillance company is helping to develop the UK as an ‘international space power’ backed by years of experience in the industry. 

Ralph “Dinz” Dinsley, a recently retired RAF officer with more than 32 years in military service as an aerospace battle manager, has formed Northumberland-based Northern Space and Security Limited (NorSS) to utilise his unprecedented expertise in space surveillance and tracking. 

Dinz has more than 16 years’ surveillance experience working at RAF Fylingdales, near Pickering, North Yorkshire, an early warning station to detect ballistic missile attacks, with a secondary role of detecting, reporting and tracking satellite launches and orbits. This included a number of years supporting both the UK and its Allies’ development of space situational awareness and space domain awareness.

Dinz set up NorSS in Longhoughton last May to deliver specialist support to space flight operations and space surveillance, providing expert advice on technical, operational and policy matters regarding sustainable use of space.

NorSS is benefitting from the region’s space incubation programme, delivered by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council, in partnership with the UK Space Agency. The scheme helps companies working in the industry access expertise in areas such as marketing, law, financial management, business growth and IP protection. 

“Globally, people refer to space as a bit of the Wild West – it’s a strange environment and expertise in the area of space surveillance and tracking is limited. A growing recognition of the need for space traffic management means NorSS will be able to exploit an emerging concept,” he said.

“My vision for NorSS is to contribute heavily to the space surveillance picture, support traffic management and, if there’s the opportunity for a space operations centre outside the military, then that’s where I see my business’s core work.

“Beyond that, NorSS will also support space education both for Government and industry. So, it would be a multifaceted company providing all manner of expertise to help both the growing UK space industry but also developing the UK as an international space power.”

Dinz expects NorSS to expand its workforce as it looks to work on projects with the European and UK Space Agencies, as well in areas of defence and security, in the “niche but expanding” area of the market.  

Brian Archer, Business Durham managing director, said: “NorSS is the perfect example of an emerging regional company with the capabilities to achieve great things in the space industry.

 

“The incubation programme will allow NorSS access to specialist advice on funding, business development and support to ensure it has the chance to grasp the numerous opportunities available.”

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  • The first light from the European Extremely Large Telescope designed by the European Southern Observatory is due to take place in 2024, but much of the work on its optical technology has already started here in Durham.Read the case study
  • Durham teachers are being inspired with ideas on how to engage children with light and smart materials in their lessons.
  • A new £18m National Centre for Healthcare Photonics is being created at NETPark in County Durham. Planned to open in 2017, it will be one of the world's most exciting places where businesses, academia, entrepreneurs and investors come together to develop new technologies using light to diagnose and treat medical conditions and illnesses. Read the full story
  • A bit of clever robot weld programming has come from local innovator, Andrew Turner, at NETPark – the science park just a few miles from Durham city. A former Senior Engineer for a major car parts manufacturer, Andrew drew from his own experience to solve a costly welding problem in automotive welding. Read the case study
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  • Secondary school pupils all over County Durham are asked to reimagine their future through the Future Business Magnates competition in 2015. They were challenged to come up with new ways of using light.
  • Lumiere, the biggest light festival in the UK with 175,000 visitors, happens every two years in Durham. It returns in November 2017.
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  • Using ultra-stable lasers, Durham physicists are cooling atoms to the point at which they hardly move. This is important to create atoms that will enable quantum computing using light, computing power beyond what we have today.
  • Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is working to use organic light emitting diodes to create a whole new generation of windowless airplane fuselages. This will transform how you see your flight from inside the plane, and also help reduce fuel consumption significantly.
  • Kromek uses its patented digital colour X-ray and gamma ray technology in a range of products that deal with liquid based threats in aviation security and border control, as well as the security and industrial inspection markets.
  • Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation builds instruments for major telescopes, enabling us to observe the universe in new ways.
  • Durham University is using photophysics to develop new ways of tackling counterfeiters and to monitor what actually takes place in your dishwasher or washing machine at a microscopic scale.
  • Using technology originally developed at Durham University for Europe’s Extremely Large Telescope, researchers are also applying these methods to advance optical microscopy which is being used to study live zebrafish to help understand heart disease.
  • The University is home to the former Astronomer Royal, Sir Arnold Wolfendale, who carries on the proud tradition of Durham and astronomy.
  • Thomas Wright, the astronomer, was the first to describe the shape of the Milky Way. He was born in County Durham in 1711.
  • Ibex Innovations created and now offers low dose, high contrast X-ray imaging which delivers higher safety and efficiency through improved visibility of defects.
  • Optical communication uses light to carry information. Located here in Durham is aXenic, a global technology leader in optical communications components and subsystems for high-speed voice, video and data communications for networking, storage, wireless, and cable TV applications.
  • Durham University’s Biophysical Sciences Institute has developed a use for infrared to treat dementia and detect early dental disease.
  • Multi-award winner Polyphotonix has developed a non-invasive organic light emitting diode treatment for diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the developed world with a potential customer base of 320 million worldwide and saving the NHS £1BN a year

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