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Space UK: a visionary legacy

Sir Martin Sweeting spoke at the Parliamentary Space Committee this week.  He welcomed government investments and looked to the future of space engineering in Britain.
Sir Martin was asked to speak to the PSC about the state of the space industry in the UK.  He recognised government investments and strategies to promote the sector, noted successes and acknowledged the challenges ahead.  It's an exciting time for the space industry in the UK - here's Sir Martin's speech in full.

"Space will be this government's legacy: it has been created by David Willetts, who recognised the foundation laid by his predecessor and who has promoted the Innovation and Growth Strategy for space across government with compelling arguments and successfully securing the proper recognition of the importance of space to the UK's economy, security and place in a technological world.

How the UK position has changed in the last 3 or so years: it is now accepted that space is a driver of innovation in both high tech manufacturing (the upstream) and businesses based on applications and services for the UK (the downstream). We have a rejuvenated executive space agency and the funding secured by David for both national and ESA programmes will catalyse new products and allows the UK to takes its place at the 'top table' of European space - second only to France and Germany in contribution to ESA. The strong position negotiated by David and his team at the ESA ministerial last month is a game-changer from which the UK can grow influence and competitive advantage. At this point I’d like to thank David Williams, the outgoing chief executive of the agency, for the work he has done supporting industry and helping to transform the ‘space landscape’ over his tenure and we look forward to an announcement about his successor who most surely will be in a position to build upon David’s work.

We are now able to participate properly in key Earth observation programmes such as MetOp & GMES and, most importantly, the UK is the lead investor in ARTES. Our commitment to ESA is confirmed by the move of the ESA Telecoms directorate to Harwell consolidating the UK's reputation as the home of Europe's satcom sector, the most commercial, export-based part of the UK space story. Industry believes that UK investments resulting from the ESA Ministerial will generate at least 6:1 return for the UK economy. We congratulate the Agency, together with the Minister, for their preparations for the ESA Ministerial - clearly the most joined-up ESA Ministerial and the most visionary decision in the history of UK space policy.

Substantial investment has been made too in national capabilities: in the ISIC/Catapult focussing on applications and business incubation; in TechDemoSat to provide a timely in-orbit testbed for new products and ideas from UK industry and academia; and in NovaSAR to create the next generation constellation of small remote sensing satellites.

Government has a critical role as seed corn investor in ground-breaking concepts for space – for example, the MOSAIC programme has yielded an amazing 20:1 RoI to date and enabled SSTL to create over 550 skilled jobs and develop international leadership small satellite constellations such as the DMC with key export markets to both established and emerging space nations worldwide - worth some £0.5Bn in export earnings. An international DMC conference will be held in London in March, a major showcase of UK space exporting success – and, of course, all 22 payloads for the Galileo FOC are being manufactured in the UK by SSTL.

All of the evidence suggests that space has a major role to play stimulating growth in the economy, making a significant contribution to UK exports and a ‘shop-window’ for the UK as a high tech leader. Overall, Space has posted record growth in the UK economy, averaging ~9% a year, contributing £9.2 Bn and 29,000 highly skilled jobs in 2010. Space is about investing in success. The potential for space in the UK is high, the opportunities are great; the government has invested; the targets set for the space sector are demanding - we know it is now our time to deliver.

We believe that with the ESA Ministerial, the new satellite applications catapult, the UK Space Agency, and the Space Leadership Council, all of which has happened in the last two and half years led by David, Britain has become the best place in the world to do space business.

But this is not the end of the story - it is just the beginning of a new path; sustained support across government departments is critical to enabling industry and academia to deliver fully on these early investments.

I should like to express the thanks of the space community to Adam and the PSC for all their support. Parliamentary support for space remains vital. We know that we have got where we are because of the consistent and long-term support Adam has shown for the sector since his days in Opposition. And of course final thanks goes to David, whose intellect has for a long time been widely recognised, but now has also earned the additional reputation as the 'Usain Bolt' of the space community - moving the IGS forward at a truly record pace."





13 December 20120 Comments1 Comment

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