People often think of Luxembourg as Europe’s most forward thinking space country in Europe. But when stepping beside its recent exit from the European Union, the United Kingdom is another upcoming European space powerhouse, with an ambitious UK space policy and funding programmes that enables the space sector to walk the talk.
World-Leading Space Industry
The space sector in the United Kingdom is world-leading in a range of technologies including the production of small satellites and the use of space data to improve lives and better understand our planet. Recently, the ADS Group, the national trade organisation representing and supporting more than 1,100 UK businesses operating in the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, prepared a report with an outlook of the UK space sector in 2022. They produced this outlook in collaboration with space industry association UKspace and guidance from the UK Space Agency.
47,000 Jobs in a £6.5 billion Industry
The UK space sector directly employs 47,000 people in the UK, delivering high value jobs for a highly skilled workforce, and supports almost 2,500 apprentices across the sector. Turnover growth continues to increase year on year, reaching £6.5 billion in 2021. Space exports valued £5.3 billion to the UK, in 2021.
There are significant business opportunities in the UK space sector including the areas of In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM), Earth Observation (EO) and launch capability.
National Space Strategy
The growth of the space sector in the United Kingdom is supported by an evolving policy landscape that is based on a close partnership between industry and government, that sets a clear plan for the future of the space sector in the country, through the National Space Partnership.
This first ever National Space Strategy (updated in February 2022) brings together the UK’s strengths in science and technology, defence, regulation, and diplomacy to pursue a bold national vision. This strategy identifies five goals and the activities that government, academia and industry will need to take to achieve them.
National Space Vision
We will build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, and the UK will grow as a space nation. We will protect and defend the UK’s interests in space, shape the space environment and use space to help solve challenges at home and overseas. Through cutting edge research, we will inspire the next generation and sustain the UK’s competitive edge in space science and technology.
United Kingdom goals in space
- Grow and level up our space economy
- Promote the values of Global Britain
- Lead pioneering scientific discovery and inspire the nation
- Protect and defend our national interests in and through space
- Use space to deliver for UK citizens and the world
How the UK will achieve the goals
- Unlocking growth in the space sector
- Collaborating internationally
- Growing the UK as a science and technology superpower
- Developing resilient space capabilities and services
LaunchUK, the UK government’s spaceflight programme, is delivering the National Space Strategy by supporting the space sector to attract new investment and grow its launch services and spaceports. This will provide high-skilled jobs and wider economic and social benefits to communities right across the country.
In 2022, the UK will be the first country to launch a rocket into orbit from European soil. By 2023, there will be three operational spaceports in the UK, offering a full suite of launch services to domestic and international customers. By 2030, the UK will become the leading provider of commercial small satellite launch in Europe.
Earlier this year, Groundstation.space analysed the space ecosystems in the Netherlands and Czechia: