The government has published its first-ever National Space Strategy setting out its ambitions for the UK in space and bringing together civil and defence policy for the first time.
The National Space Strategy is designed to help UK’s multibillion-pound space industry grow, boost private investment and capitalise on UK strengths such as satellite manufacturing. It will encourage innovation by UK space businesses by unlocking private finance. It will also help position the UK at the frontier of 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 government said that the space sector is worth over £16bn per year to the UK economy and plays a “pivotal role in our daily lives”, from connecting people with their friends and family, to monitoring the climate to helping farmers manage their crops.
Bringing together the UK government’s civil and defence space activities for the first time, the National Space Strategy will help ensure an integrated approach to combating hostile forces, as well as emerging international threats such as cyber-attacks and anti-satellite missiles, protecting UK interests both at home and abroad.
Under the strategy, the UK’s first Defence Space Portfolio will be delivered. As part of this, the government will invest an additional £1.4bn in developing new capabilities over and above the £5bn already committed to enhance the military’s satellite communications. The government said this will help ensure the “UK keeps pace with its competitors and adversaries as space becomes more competitive, congested and contested”.
The strategy lays out how the UK can become a global leader in high-growth areas such as satellite broadband operations. This will build on the government’s investment in the OneWeb broadband satellite network last year, while also focusing on new and emerging markets such as in-orbit servicing and space debris removal.
The National Space Strategy has 4 cross-cutting pillars where government will take bold action to achieve its goals:
- Unlocking growth in the UK space sector
- Collaborating internationally with our partners and allies
- Growing the UK as a science and technology superpower
- Developing resilient space capabilities and services
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.”
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 £6bn 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.”
The UK space sector currently employs over 45,000 people in highly skilled jobs. The National Space Strategy will look to build upon these strengths and help companies seize future opportunities. The global space economy is projected to grow from an estimated £270bn in 2019 to £490bn by 2030.
View the full National Space Strategy here