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Interdisciplinary Research Theme

The challenge  

Space is essential to modern life. Smartphones, GPS navigation, aviation and weather forecasting are instances from the myriad of daily-life interactions hinged to space-based technology. Humanity’s present and future security and prosperity depend on satellites. 

New technologies and cheaper access to space enable us to more deeply explore Earth, the solar system, the Universe and deliver new global services like space-enabled internet, and make new scientific discoveries in zero- and partial-gravity. 

Our immersion in space-related technology is changing how we think and govern. Humanity is exploring the solar system using robotic probes and crewed missions, and the Universe using space-based observatories. Space is also a bioscience laboratory, providing a unique environment for insights into human health and developing new therapeutics. Microgravity presents both challenges and opportunities for efficiently creating the food, medicine and organic materials needed for crewed solar system exploration, which may help address Earth’s sustainability crisis. 

However, space is a harsh environment, fizzing with high-energy radiation and rapid streams of particles. As space becomes more accessible, the interplay of protecting an astronaut’s health upon returning to Earth extends beyond just rehabilitation from weightlessness. It proliferates into progressing legal and political frameworks and evolve societal and cultural responses to protect astronauts and technology. As a consequence, the Space IDRT includes researchers from across the arts and humanities to develop critical and creative approaches to space science and technology that yield constructive provocations and new perspectives.

What we do 

Northumbria has a diverse and excellent portfolio of research with applications to space. Our community includes engineers, physical and mathematical scientists, and experts in our natural environment, human society, biology, economy, law and politics. We are also home to the North East Space Skills and Technology centre (NESST), opening up diverse opportunities for space-related and space technology research. 

There are already many examples of inter-disciplinary successes across the University including in Communications Technology, the Aerospace Medicine and Rehabilitation Laboratory, Space Law, Cultural Negotiation of Science, Geography and Earth Sciences, and the Solar and Space Physics Peak of Excellence.

About us 

The Space IDRT is a year old and is open for interested researchers to join and find out about what we do and help shape the future of space-related science at Northumbria and beyond.

Space brings together researchers with diverse interests in emerging space research areas, to stimulate new ideas, enhance excellence and drive innovation in the exploration and use of space for humankind.

Get in touch

Space IDRT aims to bring together researchers who are interested in Space-related research of any kind and supports interdisciplinary space-related activities across the University. Find out more or get involved by emailing Space IDRT Lead, Jonathan Rae (

Theme Lead

Professor Jonathan Rae

Join our IDRT mailing list

To join the Space IDRT mailing list, please email

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