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The UK Space Program

Bryan Jones & Dr Khalil Khan
18 August 2017

Star cluster, 20,000 light years from Earth.

On the 11th July 2017, the UK Government announced funding in excess of £100 million in the 'Space Industry' bill.  The announcement reflects the Government's support for a market with substantial growth potential, which will play an increasingly important role in the future industrial potential of the UK manufacturing base. In the decade up to 2014-15, the sector has more than doubled in value from £6.7 billion to £13.7 billion, with a current growth rate of 6.5%/annum, well above that of the remaining manufacturing sectors in the UK.

Currently there are more than 700 space related organisations in the UK, with 38,500 in direct employment and a further 42,000 in indirect employment.

The application sector dominates at present with new products and services that use satellite data accounting for 74% of the total market. At present £250 billion of UK output is supported by satellite services!

The new funding of £100 million will focus primarily on building a state of the art small satellite facility, which will enable the assembly, integration and testing of both space instruments and satellites. The objective is to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030. Plans also include the development of UK spaceports, so that the UK is less reliant on other countries to launch UK manufactured satellite.  The investment is in clear response to the inevitable growth in satellite activity, with current expectations of a further launch of 3,500 10,000 satellites by 2025.

Sub orbital spaceflights to satisfy the demands of both scientific knowledge and tourism are planned to begin in 2020!

This new investment will complement the UK's existing commitment to space ventures, where the UK has an enviable reputation for world class research. It is widely recognised that the existing space programme delivers significant benefit to public services, national security, science and innovation, and value to the economy. Current UK international collaborative activities include:

  1. A €44 billion commitment to European funding of space which includes a variety of projects e.g. the James Webb Space Telescope, and the Exomars mission.
  2. The international partnership programme for space enabled services - food security, marine protection and education.
  3. Key UK designed and built instruments are to be found on many existing international space missions.
  4. The UK is heavily involved with institutions/universities worldwide on major issues including the Earth's environment, the Solar System and the wider universe.

 

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