Photo courtesy of SSTL
New plans to strengthen the UK as a world-class space nation have been set out in a recently launched National Space Strategy. From connecting people with their friends and family and monitoring climate to helping farmers to manage their crops, the space industry plays a pivotal role and is a vital part of the UK economy, worth over £16 billion per year.
The National Space Strategy sets out the Government’s long-term vision for how the UK can “establish itself as one of the most attractive and innovative space economies in the world. It will empower British space businesses to innovate and grow by unlocking private finance, while positioning the UK at the forefront of international space research and bringing together the Government’s civil and defence space activities”.
The Strategy also sets out how the Government will build on the UK’s strengths in space, including satellite manufacturing and communications, while working with British companies at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technologies. It also outlines how the UK can establish global leadership in high-growth areas, such as satellite broadband operations, while also focusing on new and emerging markets like in-orbit servicing and space debris removal.
Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman said: “As we enter an exciting new space age, we have bold ambitions for the UK to be at the vanguard of this industry in our role as a ‘science superpower’ — whether it is launching the first satellite from British soil or leading major international space missions to help combat climate change.
The National Space Strategy sets out our vision for ensuring that our thriving space sector ‘lifts off’ for the long term, ensuring the UK’s most innovative space businesses can unlock private capital and benefit our home-grown space expertise.
Above all, by integrating our commercial and military space activities, we will use space to protect British interests abroad and on home soil, establishing the UK as one of the most attractive and innovative space economies in the world.
“The UK already boasts a thriving space sector employing over 45,000 people in highly skilled jobs — from space scientists and researchers to engineers and satellite manufacturers. The National Space Strategy looks to harness these strengths and support British companies to seize future opportunities, with the global space economy projected to grow from an estimated £270 billion in 2019 to £490 billion by 2030.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The ability to operate in space is not only fundamental to the success of our Armed Forces but also to maintaining civilian, commercial and economic activity. We launched UK Space Command this year for this very purpose.
“Collaboration with academic and industry partners ensures we progress research and development needed to stay at the forefront of pioneering technology and ahead of our adversaries. The new National Space Strategy builds on our commitment to spend more than £6 billion over the next 10 years to enhance our space capabilities, support vital skills and expertise while strengthening the UK’s security at home and overseas.”
Also published recently was the National Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, which sets out a five-year vision for boosting UK resilience to the risk of severe space weather events, the variable conditions on the sun and in space that can influence the performance of technology and national infrastructure that we use on Earth — from power grid outages to disruption of satellite-navigation systems that we use.