23 May 2019
Lowena Hull, 17, a Portsmouth High School pupil has won £7,500 in a competition to come up with ideas on how satellites can improve life on Earth, run by the UK Space Agency.
Lowena has won the top prize in the Agency’s SatelLife competition for young people, for her idea on tracking down lost supermarket trolleys. She will now go on to pitch her idea to a panel of industry experts at the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire in June in the hope of gaining further support to turn it into reality.
Interviewed on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio Solent this morning, Lowena said:
‘It was a big shock to hear that I had come first but am absolutely delighted about winning this prestigious prize.’
Lowena’s Trolley Tracker tool would use satellites to monitor the location of trolleys taken off site and allow them to be reclaimed. In 2015 1.5 million trolleys were taken from supermarkets and abandoned, with significant environmental impacts.
The A-level student, from Rowlands Castle, who came up with her winning idea after seeing abandoned trolleys around the area, said: ‘I started looking into it and the more research I did the more I realised it’s a massive issue and really bad for the environment. I heard about the SatelLife competition online and it looked like such a great competition. Space has always been a topic that has fascinated me and I’ve grown more interested as I’ve got older.
‘Now my idea is something I’d like to take further. It’s a good opportunity to get supermarkets involved and it would benefit them as well as councils and the government and everyone who lives in the areas affected.’
Space is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK and it is estimated an additional 30,000 new career opportunities could be created by 2030. Now in its third year, the SatelLife competition aims to encourage 11-22 year olds to think about how satellites impact our everyday lives and learn more about the careers available in the sector.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:
The judging panel was made up of experts from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell and industry.
Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications at the UK Space Agency, said: ‘The quality of entries this year was very high. We were particularly pleased to see such a wide variety of satellite applications being used. These young people clearly recognised the diversity of areas that satellites impact on our day-to-day lives and Lowena’s entry was an innovative solution to a real problem.
‘We were impressed by how Lowena identified an issue that is not routinely highlighted and worked to build a prototype to demonstrate how this would work. I look forward to seeing how she develops her idea in the future.’
With major parts for one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites already built in Britain, the government’s Industrial Strategy includes plans to work with the industry to grow the space sector and establish commercial space launch services from the UK for the first time.
There has been significant growth in the UK space sector in recent years which provides £14.8 billion in total income and employs nearly 42,000 people. As part of the ambition to grow the UK’s share of space activity to 10% of the global market by 2030 the Government is investing £50 million in a Spaceflight Programme to kick-start small satellite launch and sub-orbital spaceflight from UK spaceports. The UK is also investing £99 million in a National Satellite Test Facility at Harwell.