Our Mission and Activities

We provide resources and events to support university teaching staff of space science and engineering in the UK


Skilled graduates

Our aim is to facilitate the creation of a skilled workforce of graduates who can meet the challenges of enabling future scientific, commercial and societal exploitation of space. We focus on support for and enhancing of the activities of teaching staff involved in under and postgraduate degrees and outreach. We also liaise with the UK Space Agency and Industry to encourage a broad range of space-related internships.


Sharing Best Practice

We develop, share and pro​mote effective practice​ and innovation in the delivery of university ­level space science and engineering curricula through workshops, research, supporting professional development and networking. We also support our Institutions through best practice in course design and administrative processes as well as through engaging industry in curriculum development.


Relevant Curricula

We liaise with industry to ensure currency and relevance of curriculum and provide guidance, expertise and shared resources for space­ related projects like CubeSats and other topical areas. We organise shared CPD short courses for industry and shared summer schools at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


Promoting space science and engineering

We provide a bank of public outreach materials for schools, a database of speakers and topic experts and a recruitment portal for space courses. We will provide a presence at key opportunities and events to recruit young people to the discipline and liaise with student space societies such as SEDS to deliver outreach and training.

Partner Organisations

We already have links with Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS), Space Academic Network (SPAN), ESERO UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Wales Academic Space Partnership (WASP). We are keen to develop links with new organisations.

Please contact us at sun-group@bristol.ac.uk if you wish to become a partner.

Sponsoring Organisations

The Space Universities Network is supported by the UK Space Agency and is hosted by the University of Bristol. If you are interested in sponsoring the organisation, please contact us.

The Team

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Prof. Lucy Berthoud


Dr Lucy Berthoud has worked for 25 years in Spacecraft research and in industry. She is a senior teaching fellow at the University of Bristol in the Aerospace Engineering department.

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She also works at Thales Alenia Space UK spacecraft manufacturers in the Spaceflight Systems department as a senior systems engineer on Mars Sample Return Missions, Nanosats, Lunar dust experiments and Planetary Protection. She is co-leading the University of Bristol CubeSat programme and is Chair of the Space Universities Network. She has also worked at NASA and the European Space Agency. She holds a ‘Best of Bristol lecturer’ and University of Bristol Education Awards.


Dr. Kate Smith


Katharine graduated with a BEng(Hons) in Aerospace Engineering from Queen Mary University of London in 2000.
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She was then awarded an EPSRC studentship and went on to complete her PhD research on the Characterisation of electrospray properties in high vacuum at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, which she received from the University of London in 2005. Katharine then worked as a post-doctoral research fellow in the Electrospray research group at Queen Mary University of London until September 2008 when she was appointed as a Lecturer of Aerospace Engineering in the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary. She took up a post as a Lecturer in Aerospace Propulsion at UoM in August 2010. In December 2013 she became a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Katharine was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2016 and Reader in 2021. Katharine’s research interests are centered on space systems engineering with a particular focus on nano-satellite systems, electric propulsion, space robotics, and in situ resource utilisation.

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Mr. Ian Raper


Ian is an Associate Professor in the Technology Management Group of the Department of Space and Climate Physics. He is also the Departmental Graduate Tutor responsible for MSc programmes in Systems Engineering Management.

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Prior to joining MSSL, he had 22 years of industrial experience working on all aspects of the systems design lifecycle from user requirements through to integration, acceptance, and deployment. Ian is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering. He holds an MSc in Systems Engineering from UCL and in 2015 gained a PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education.


Charlie Leach


Charlie has three years of experience as Coordinator for SUN following a summer internship at the network in 2020. He undertakes the general admin of SUN and leads the space industry webinar series.

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In the summer of 2023, Charlie graduated with First Class MEng in Engineering Mathematics from the University of Bristol. He was further awarded the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Final Year prize for the most outstanding student on an IET-accredited degree.

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