Government unveils new plans to strengthen the UK as a world class space nation.

New plans to strengthen the UK as a world class space nation by firing up its multibillion-pound space industry have been set out in a National Space Strategy launched today.

From connecting people with their friends and family and monitoring climate to helping farmers to manage their crops, space plays a pivotal role in our daily lives, and is a vital part of the UK economy, worth over £16 billion per year.

Today’s 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 - whether that’s by supporting the first British spaceport satellite launch due in 2022, or leading international space missions that help tackle global challenges such as climate change.

The Strategy brings together the UK government’s civil and defence space activities to ensure an integrated approach to combating hostile forces and emerging international threats such as cyber-attacks and anti-satellite missiles, while protecting UK interests at home and abroad.

It 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. The Strategy outlines how the UK can establish global leadership in high-growth areas, such as satellite broadband operations, building on the government’s recent investment in OneWeb, 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’s launching the first satellite from British soil, or leading major international space missions to help combat climate change.

Today’s National Space Strategy sets out our vision for ensuring that our thriving space sector lifts off for the long term. It will put rocket boosters under the UK’s most innovative space businesses, ensuring they 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 Strategy has 4 cross-cutting pillars where government will take bold action to achieve its goals:

  • unlocking growth in the UK space sector - supporting UK businesses, researchers, and innovators to grow the space sector and level up our economy
  • collaborating internationally with our partners and allies - demonstrating global leadership, and becoming an international partner of choice in space activities
  • growing the UK as a science and technology superpower - continuing to collaborate in high profile space missions and backing space technologies to tackle global challenges such as climate change
  • developing resilient space capabilities and services - ensuring our critical national infrastructure can rely on a wide range of resilient space technologies and delivering the UK Defence Space Portfolio to strengthen UK security at home and overseas.

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.

Ensuring the UK keeps pace with our competitors and adversaries as space becomes more competitive, congested and contested, the Strategy commits to the delivery of the UK’s first Defence Space Portfolio. This will see the government investing an additional £1.4 billion in developing new capabilities over and above the £5 billion already committed to enhance the military’s satellite communications.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

The ability to operate in space is fundamental to the success of our Armed Forces but also in 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 whilst strengthening the UK’s security at home and overseas.

Also published today is the National Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, which sets out a 5-year vision for boosting UK resilience to the risk of severe space weather events.

Severe space weather refers to 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.

The National Severe Space Weather Preparedness Strategy outlines a series of commitments by government to work with industry, academia, and international partners to increase the country’s understanding and preparedness for a sever space weather event, while tapping into UK expertise already in place, such as the 24 hour Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

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