Defense & Aerospace

UK Government to provide £100 million development fund to UK space sector

Alfred Gilbert
Tue, 11 Jul 2017
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In a press release this week, the UK government have confirmed a £100 million funding package for the continued development of the UK space sector, in relation to increasing global competition.

Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, confirmed that the boost exemplified the Government’s desire and commitment to ensuring that the UK stats at the forefront of international research and development within the sector.

 

As stated on the announcement, “From Cornwall to the Highlands and islands of Scotland, the UK space sector underpins industries worth more than £250 billion to the UK economy, and through our Industrial Strategy we will unlock the sector’s potential to grow further.”

 

The £100 million package includes two major investments. Firstly, a £4 million investment has been assigned for a new National Space Propulsion Facility. This will be used to help advance the development and testing of space engines within the UK and related technologies.

The major part of the financial package, however, will be used to create a National Satellite Testing Facility on Oxfordshire’s Harwell Campus. With a predicted opening date in 2020, the new site will be a world-leading facility for the testing, integration, and assembly of satellites and instruments, enhancing the country’s ability to create more technologically advanced systems. With an estimated 3,500 – 10,000 satellite launches to take place by 2025, the facility will help ensure the UK is utilising the most innovative and disruptive technologies available within the market.

This announcement builds on a multi-million-pound scheme released by the Government earlier this year, centred around a desire to incentivise and push forward the UK’s commercial spaceflight market. A consortium of industry, government and academic partners have also announced plans to develop a further £65 million digital aviation centre in the UK, focused on tackling emerging aerospace challenges. Announcements from specific key industry players and commercial giants on their own commitments to development within the UK aerospace sector, create a very positive outlook for the country moving forwards.

 

Questions remain as to whether the investment is enough for the UK to compete with the space powerhouses of USA, China, and Russia. What is clear from this announcement, however, is that the Government has a clear interest and intent in ensuring that the country remains competitive on the global stage against its competitors.

“From Cornwall to the Highlands and islands of Scotland, the UK space sector underpins industries worth more than £250 billion to the UK economy, and through our Industrial Strategy we will unlock the sector’s potential to grow further.” - Jo Johnson