Lift-off for the UK with new spaceport: potential boost for tech industry

The A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland, Scotland, was chosen to be the most suitable place for the new spaceport, from which to launch rockets vertically to put satellites in orbit.

Two separate grants from the UK Space Agency, worth a combined £23.5 million has been made to Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, to establish vertical launch operations at Sutherland and to develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire.

As part of Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, a further £5.5 million will go to Orbex, a European space launch company, to build a rocket for launch from Sutherland.

A new era for the UK space industry

UK’s Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: “As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, 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 put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.”

>See also: What does the new government industrial strategy mean for CTOs?

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”

Artist’s impression of vertical launch from UK spaceport. Credit: Lockheed Martin.

The news follows only a day after Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS Group, a trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence and space industries, warned that Britain faces an “erosion” of investment in its space, security and defence sectors unless a good Brexit deal is struck with the EU, on the BBC.

He said:”If the costs of operating in the UK become higher, then our ability to attract new investment will be diminished.”

“We are a long-term industry. When a big investment decision comes along we are not in such a good place. If it continues we could see an erosion of our position.”

>See also: The UK Government’s industrial strategy and your service department

According to Government figures, the global space economy market is valued at between £155 billion and £190 billion, and it is estimated to grow to £400 billion by 2030. The UK space sector has trebled in size in real terms since 2000 – with a turnover of £13.7billion, between 6.3% and 7.7% of the global market.

A boost for the tech industry

There is a dynamic, all be it small, satellite manufacturing sector in the UK, this is good news for them as they may have the ability to launch programmes locally. However, this could have an upside for many other UK industries.

Evan Dixon, CEO, European Broadband Retail at Viasat Inc., said: “Critics may prefer the UK Government to look closer to home rather than outer space, but investments in space technology quickly return commercial applications. By looking to the stars, we bring innovation, employment and business growth to the UK economy.”

>See also: Tech Nation 2018 report: UK tech ahead of the rest of the economy

“Indeed, space is one of the eight great technologies for the UK. It is a dynamic, fast-growing sector which employs some of the country’s top talent, as well as contributing to economic growth and other important national needs, such as Earth observation and satellite communications.”

“This investment will be key towards meeting the objectives outlined in the UK Space Industry Bill and will help to drive further innovation and employment back into the British economy. Not to mention national heroes like Tim Peake.”


Avatar photo

Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

Related Topics

Tech Industry