By March 5, 2020 Read More →

Space sector recognised at the top table of Government

The UK Space Agency is working hard across Government to develop a new and comprehensive space strategy and also to establish a National Space Council. This will ensure that space is properly considered at the top table of Government; space is already being taken seriously within Westminster and has more support now than ever.

This was the key message from Emma Floyd, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, speaking at FAST Museum on 4 March at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black Arrow launch.

“Black Arrow is an important part of the UK’s space heritage,” she said. “Developed through the 1960s and launched in 1970, the programme might have been shortlived [its second launch in 1971 was also its last], but it is great to be able to recognise the achievements of the past as we look to the future.”

UK launch capability

The success of the UK space sector in areas such as satellite manufacture has been one of the key drivers behind the UK Space Agency’s ambitions to bring launch back to the UK.

Ms Floyd says it’s the part of the puzzle that’s been missing. “Our aim is to establish commercial vertical and horizontal launch from UK spaceports, providing world leading capability, bringing new markets to the UK and inspiring the next generation of British space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

“This is a hugely exciting project. Industry and Government are already working together to develop spaceports in the UK, as well as launch vehicle and satellite technology,” she continued. “These are complemented by cutting edge test facilities.

“Bringing launch back to the UK will also be a catalyst for growth in other sectors of the economy. So far the UK Space Agency has given out £40m in grants and we’re working with seven potential spaceports in the UK.”

But Ms Floyd acknowledges that this is a complicated task. “The complexity means it’s really important to get it right. In the Outer Space Act we’ve put safety first, but we’ve also enabled the innovations that the sector needs.

“But there is still a lot more work for us to do. We are working closely with our colleagues at the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority to provide the detailed legislation that will create the regulations and comprehensive guidance needed for the sector to be able to flourish.”

Legislation timetable

In terms of the timescale, Ms Floyd said that a consultation would be launched in the coming months, adding: “And we’ll continue to work with all of our partners as their plans come ever closer to fruition.”

She reiterated that the UK Space Agency is committed to growing the industry. “Our space sector has been a great success story over the last decade. Since we established the UK Space Agency in 2010, the sector has grown by 60%.

It now generates £15bn per year for the economy and employs more than 40,000 people.”

The UK Space Agency is partnering with Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) and British rocket launch provider Skyrora to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Black Arrow launch and the current success of the UK space sector. Skyrora brought the first stage of Black Arrow R3 back to the UK from Australia two years ago and has lent it to the FAST Museum where it will be on display from today for the next three years, close to the original programme birthplace, the RAE Space Department.

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