UK In Space Race

Lift Off: UK Set for a New Space Era

Yesterday was a strong day for the British aerospace industry as a series of announcements took place at the Farnborough Airshow, which are set to put this £3.8bn back on the global map.

Some of the most significant announcements that took place yesterday included:

  • Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland and develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire with support from two U.K. Space Agency grants totalling £23.5 million;
  • A further £5.5 million will go to UK-based Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, as part of the government’s industrial strategy.
  • This builds on awards of £2.5 million to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland and a £2 million development fund for horizontal spaceports such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow, Prestwick, and Snowdonia.
  • Government support for launch is the first step toward a potential space sector deal and the development of a national space program.

Speaking at the opening of the Airshow yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May said that “By working closely together, government and industry have ensured we remain at the forefront of civil aviation and that our air power is second to none.

She went of to say that “Today I want us to build on that, and ensure not only that we retain our prominence, but that in an increasingly competitive industry we make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Mrs May was backed up by the Business Secretary Greg Clark who detailed a total of £33.5m in grants said “We want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our industrial strategy…the UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain puts the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch site.”

This series of announcements are crucial for the UK and symbolise a strong future for Britain. We want to continue to be world leaders in the space industry and the only way to do is increased investment in British innovation and skills.

Alden Advisers Director, and Satellite Finance Network Co-Chair Joanne Wheeler believes that these announcements are huge for the United Kingdom.

“A UK launch site will allow the world-leading UK smallsat manufacturing, operations, and application industry to be able to launch satellites from the UK and not rely on a limited supply of launches abroad…this will make the UK a one-stop shop for satellite services and a European leader for the best place in Europe to start, develop, and grow a space company.”

As we move beyond the European Union, we will need to be able to be more independent, become a hub of innovation, grow our skills and protect our prosperity. This announcement is the first sign that we are about to become a stronger, more independent Britain.

This is our chance to begin to form our own future and invest in it. We can collaborate and trade with countries beyond Europe, countries that will be on our own level of defence investment and innovation. It’s a positive step in returning confidence within our own capabilities and our own economy.