Wales lays out its space ambitions in new strategy
Plans on how Wales could play its role in the future of space have been unveiled this week by the Welsh Government in a new policy document.
The Strategy, Wales: A Sustainable Space Nation, highlights the unique environment the country offers to the space sector, and sets out various areas where the government hopes to lead growth, including space launch capabilities.
The Welsh Government acknowledges that space technology and exploration has been one of the fastest growing industries in the UK since 2010, generating an income close to £15bn a year. With this new plan, Wales hopes to secure five per cent of the UK’s market by 2040, boosting its economy by £2bn per year.
“The UK has ambitions to double the size of the space sector by 2030. The Welsh Government fully backs this growth and we’re working closely with the UK Space Agency to ensure our new national strategy for Wales aligns with the UK’s ambitions,” said Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething.
Focus on sustainability
Much of the Strategy focuses on environmentally-friendly space ventures, revealing Wales’s ambition to become the world’s first sustainable space nation by 2040.
Among these goals are the developing of in-space manufacturing and reusable satellites, which seem to be well underway. Cardiff-based company Space Forge, for example, is set to launch an innovative reusable satellite into orbit later this year. There are other major projects dedicated to developing greener fuels and propulsion technologies identified in the policy document.
Key aspects relating to the current and potential future of the space sector in Wales include:
- space launch, training and experience capability at Spaceport Sndonia at Llanbedr in Gwynedd, and proposals for sea-based launch platform operating from Port Talbot
- strengths in areas such as low earth observation satellite capabilities, developing reusable manufacturing space satellites
- satellite technology used to find water on other planets currently being trialled in Wales
- test and evaluation of new greener propulsion technologies at existing facilities, including Llanbedr, Aberporth Range in Ceredigion, Radnor Range in Powys and Pendine in Carmarthenshire
- a cluster of pioneering companies including Airbus Defence & Space, Raytheon, Qinetiq, and Qioptiq - who manufacture 98% of the global supply of space-qualified glass used in satellites and space vehicles
- a network of research and teaching facilities, including the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in Newport and AMRC Cymru in Broughton, Flintshire, which support sector research and development across the UK
- the Wales Academic Space Partnership which is harnessing collaborative academic expertise from several Welsh universities
Next week, techUK will host an event on tech and SMEs in Wales. The discussion will centre around the innovation landscape in Wales, the opportunities for the Welsh tech scene and what this means for SMEs, as well as the challenges that lie ahead so Wales can compete nationally and internationally.
For more information and to register, please click here.