08 Mar 2024

UK Government issues the Space Industrial Plan to foster growth and resilience in the space sector

Yesterday, the UK Government released the Space Industrial Plan, a collaborative civil-defence initiative aimed at revitalising the relationship between the government and the commercial space sector. In Farnborough, Min. Andrew Griffith announced the launch of the strategy to members of industry and stakeholders at Space-Comm Expo 2024.  

This plan outlines clear visions, missions, and actions to foster growth and enhance resilient space capabilities. The objective of the Space Industrial Plan is to nurture a dynamic ecosystem of space enterprises of various scales, stimulating innovation, and safeguarding operational autonomy in a competitive space landscape. Additionally, it will serve as a cornerstone for future spending strategies, ensuring the effective allocation of resources to support the UK's space aspirations. 

It relates with several policy recommendations outlined in techUK’s recent Emerging Space Technologies industry perspective report. Particularly around funding for space activities, the relevance of clusters for innovation, and leveraging the role of Earth Observation data for public service, industry, and academia.  

Capabilities goals and key action points 

For the first time, clear expectations have been outlined for the sector, focusing on priorities in five key areas crucial for delivering national space capabilities. Ambition and clarity are needed to effectively implement the national space strategy and align with governmental objectives. These areas include: 

  1. Satcoms 
  2. PNT  
  3. In-orbit servicing 
  4. Space data for Earth applications 
  5. Space domain awareness  

Additionally, emphasis will be placed on R&D initiatives such as energy propulsion systems and discovery missions. By the summer, the upcoming Future Telecoms Strategy will highlight the role of space in our future telecoms system. 

Capitalise on the City of London and mobilise finance 

The UK has a significant opportunity to establish itself as a global leader in space finance and financial services, leveraging its expertise and infrastructure in the financial sector. By tapping into private capital and pension funds, the UK can channel investments into high-growth sectors within the space industry, fuelling innovation and economic growth. Unlocking an estimated £75 billion in investment funds presents a substantial opportunity for long-term growth and development, positioning the UK at the forefront of the rapidly evolving space economy. 

Market access 

The UK must focus on international engagement, including delegations to countries like Saudi Arabia, and strive to maintain a prominent presence aligning with the Department of International Trade. By prioritising global partnerships and initiatives, we can amplify our reach and impact, fostering greater success in export endeavors and advancing our national interests on the global stage. 

Improving procurement processes 

Roughly 40% of every pound is allocated to government spending, highlighting the significant role the public sector plays in driving various initiatives. In addition to pursuing more sovereign UK space missions, fostering international collaboration is essential for advancing space exploration efforts. Collaborations with esteemed organizations like NASA and groundbreaking initiatives such as the UK-Australia Space Bridge and the Artemis mission underscore the UK's commitment to global partnerships in the space sector. As a founding member, the UK has invested £1.28 billion in the European Space Agency (ESA), demonstrating its dedication to advancing space exploration and innovation on an international scale. 

Skills 

The burgeoning talent pipeline in the space industry necessitates close collaboration with academic researchers to nurture and develop future leaders in the field. To address this need, a comprehensive space workforce action plan is set to launch in the summer, aimed at aligning industry efforts with educational institutions to foster skill development and career opportunities. It is imperative for the industry to prioritise investment in training initiatives and create pathways for individuals to access meaningful opportunities, ensuring a skilled and dynamic workforce capable of driving innovation and growth in the space sector. 

Regulatory framework 

Regulatory leadership is pivotal in driving the success of the satellite sector and fostering the creation of highly skilled jobs that spur investment throughout the supply chain. By shaping influence and implementing space sustainability standards, the UK can solidify its leadership role in global space sustainability forums, demonstrating a commitment to responsible space practices. Furthermore, the UK's competitive advantage is bolstered by investments in innovative companies like Clear Space and Astroscale, which are dedicated to addressing the challenge of existing space debris, thus positioning the UK as a frontrunner in the quest for a sustainable and secure space environment.  

Another project poised to capitalize on the advantages of innovative space clusters is set to propel progress and expand into additional locations.  


Want to find out more about UK industry's views on future space strategy?

Read techUK's first Emerging Space Technologies 'industry perspective' report.

This explores the opportunities that will be created by the growing commercialisation of space.


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