by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Nov 22, 2012
The UK Space Agency is set to invest 1.2 pounds in some of Europe's biggest and most lucrative space projects, providing the UK with increased leadership in a rapidly growing global sector and building on the British space industry's 9.1 pounds contribution to the economy.
From satellite communications to Mars rovers and nuclear space batteries to weather satellites, the direction of Britain's investment in European space projects was decided Wednesday as the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, finalised negotiations for the UK at the European Space Agency's (ESA) Ministerial Council in Naples.
The outcome of the negotiations will strengthen the UK role in a number of areas, including telecommunications and Earth observation satellites. It will also secure around 1 pounds of orders per year for British businesses and lay the foundations for the UK to deliver its ambition to have a 30 pounds space industry by 2030.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "Space is big business for the UK so it is important for us to make strategic investments that will continue the growth of this thriving industry. The programme of investment we've negotiated at ESA will not only allow us to get ahead in the global race by securing more major contracts for UK industry, but will also provide us with the tools to manage major challenges like disaster relief and climate change."
The UK's investment of around 240 pounds per year over the next five years will be split between ESA's mandatory programme, which all member states must commit to, and 10 other programmes, including a one-off contribution to the International Space Station as part of the negotiations on the Orion Mutli-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).
The UK's increased investment in ESA will ensure the UK plays a lead role in frontier scientific research concerning the Solar System, the Sun and the universe beyond. It will also allow us to deliver indisputably world-class science whilst providing growth for the UK economy and benefiting society at large.
The optional programmes, including the UK's contribution to the International Space Station, have been selected to maximise the economic growth to the UK, bring significant business to UK industry through future orders and create a stronger industry able to sell more abroad. It will also enable us to lead on economic services development, aspects of robotic exploration such as space nuclear power and robotics and climate studies using space data.
The UK space sector expects significant returns from the new plan of investment. Industry has already identified projects to the value of 1 pounds that should follow from the additional funding.
In addition to the funding for the International Space Station, the UK's new package of investment with ESA includes:
New 16 pounds pound investment in the International Space Station
This investment will help UK industry to diversify its industrial technical capabilities, and to achieve the long-term ambition of capturing 10 per cent of the global market.
Major increase to investment in telecommunications
81 pounds for weather satellite Metop 2G The UK Space Agency will invest 81 pounds in Metop 2G to secure a 12.5 per cent share of the total programme. Metop will replace the current satellites fundamental to the Met Office's service to the public, business and Government. This investment will allow UK industry to play a key role in developing the prototype satellite and guarantee repeat orders from European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), generating an assured multiplier for the UK economy. In 2008, the UK did not invest in the Meteosat programme, and so this investment in Metop 2G represents a significant new opportunity for the UK industrial capability.
166 pounds for the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) With an investment of 166 pounds, the UK Space Agency has once again secured a strong role in this Earth observation programme which has previously delivered significant scientific and industrial benefit to the UK. The backbone of ESA activities in the field of Earth observation, EOEP is a powerful tool for scrutinizing how our fragile home world has been changing over time, and this investment is consistent with previous UK commitments.
26 pounds for Global Monitoring of the Environment and Security (GMES) The UK has agreed to invest 25.9 pounds in this programme to develop long term, reliable Earth observation data sets. In earlier phases, significant funding was forthcoming from the EU and is also anticipated for the next phase leading to a major European asset. UK industry is already building space technology for the programme but more significant will be the impact on both public policy (natural disasters, climate change, food and energy security) and the development of commercial applications of the data through the Harwell space cluster.
Investment of 18 pounds in the European GNSS Evolution Programme (EGEP)
18 pounds for Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation Programme
UK to join the European Life and Physical Sciences Programme (ELIPS)
28 pounds for Generic Support Technology Programme (GSTP)
Taking early phase space technology research and development across the 'valley of death' into practical application, this programme is particularly important for SMEs and equipment suppliers who can work with European partners and benefit from the recognised quality of ESA technical management. The programme goals extend to offering opportunities for flight demonstration, thus overcoming a key barrier to commercial take-up.
6 pounds for Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
Dr David Williams, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said, "With the majority of the UK's investment in space being spent through ESA programmes, a robust plan of investment for ESA is pivotal to the UK space industry.
"Thanks to the Government's increased funding, we were able to enter the negotiations with the funds to match our vision and will now be able to continue programmes that will reinforce the continuing growth in a sector that now contributes over 9 pounds to the UK economy."
UK Space Agency
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