UKSA Makes Major Boost in Space Spending

LONDON (UKSA) — The UK’s £9.1 billion space sector is about to become even bigger business after the Government today pledged an extra £60 million ($95.4 million) to the UK Space Agency for Europe’s space programme. The investment was announced this morning (09/11/12) by the Chancellor during a speech at the Royal Society.

The extra investment will also secure the future of the ESA facility in Oxfordshire, including transferring ESA’s telecoms satellite headquarters to the UK and creating over 100 new high-tech jobs.

This will put Harwell at the centre of space technology and development, reinforcing the work of the Satellite Applications Catapult Centre and RAL Space. The hub will work with partners in the UK, across Europe and around the world to drive an ever-increasing range of exciting new opportunities for industry and academia.

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said:

“This increase will bring the UK’s total investment in the European Space Agency to an average of £240 million per year over the next five years. This will allow the UK to play a leading role in the next phase of European space collaboration. It will drive growth, create extra skilled jobs and help the UK to realise its ambition to have a £30 billion space industry by 2030.”

The announcement comes ahead of the European Space Agency’s Ministerial Council – a two-day meeting that takes place every four years to reach key decisions on European space programmes and activities for the future. The meeting is due to start in Naples on the 20th of November and will be attended by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts. During the proceedings the Minister will negotiate the UK’s commitment to individual programmes from the purse of funding announced today.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency:

‘With this substantial increase in investment, the UK is helping to promote competition in and encourage the growth of the European space sector by developing space capacities in the UK. In addition to the increased use of UK industry, our commitment to growing ESA’s facility here in Harwell confirms that the UK Space Agency is taking up more of a leadership role in key parts of the space sector.’

The new resources will be focussed on those projects that will bring economic growth to the UK. One example is a new generation platform for telecommunications satellites. This will provide a 20 year horizon for new satellite sales that are competitive in the global market. Another is the next generation of weather satellites, where a UK contribution to ESA programmes will bring significant business through future orders.

Dr David Williams, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

“Space is already a key asset for the UK and the decisions made at the upcoming Ministerial meeting will also shape the future of the wider European space sector: this is especially important given the current economic downturn. By pledging an extra £300 million over the next five years, we can put the UK in a leadership role for several major ESA projects. That will ensure that UK industry continue to win lucrative space contracts over the next 5 to 10 years and build on the momentum of the UK’s flourishing space sector.”

Subject to the outcome of the high-level discussions at European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial, the UK space sector expects significant returns from this further investment. Industry has already identified projects to the value of £1 billion that should follow in train from this additional funding.

Colin Paynter, Chief Executive of Astrium UK, said:

“I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to the UK space sector, and the recognition of its growing role in the economic recovery. We have shown a great return to the UK on our collaborative telecom R&D with Government, this multi-year investment gives us the confidence to continue investing, particularly in satellite communications which offer great potential for growth in the years to come.”

Williams added:

“With the world space market likely to grow to at least £400 billion by 2030, the UK needs stay in the game and build on its growing success. Space is rapidly becoming a fundamental part of our everyday lives and strong UK investment will ensure we continue to exploit this essential engine of the global economy”.