The Orbex launch vehicle developed by a Scottish company could be one of the first British rockets launched from the United Kingdom
The British government has published a strategy for the development of the space industry. The goal of the United Kingdom for the coming years is to gain leadership not only in existing, but also in promising space industries. The document also takes into account the role of Britain's partners in the AUKUS alliance – the United States and Australia.
The document, released on Monday, lists the steps Britain plans to take in the next decades to become a global space power. The government proceeds from the premise that space in the future will become a place of competition between private companies from different countries.
In the foreword, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that since childhood he wanted to be an astronaut, and today he believes that Britain has not been actively involved in the past “space races.”
In the next ten years, and most likely after, space technology will be a clear priority for the development of the British economy, along with space defense.
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Step 1: finance and infrastructure
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They plan to start by creating an investment climate in Britain for space-related companies, providing the industry with access to finance and finding innovative applications of space technologies in everyday life, beyond the already traditional GPS and weather forecasting systems.
The first step already taken was the creation of investment funds for the development of the space sector. One such fund, the Seraphim Investment Trust, recently completed an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. “It is the world's first publicly traded company set up to invest in the space technology sector,” the strategy says.
In parallel, the British government bank British Business Bank (BBB) will invest directly in space companies. The total investment, as stated in the document, will amount to 375 million pounds (more than 500 million dollars).
At the same time, infrastructure for space launches will be built, including spaceports in the UK. Seven launch pad projects are currently in development across the United Kingdom.
The first satellite launch from the British Isles is planned for next year, and by 2030 Britain wants to become the world leader in the satellite services market.
In parallel, the space defense sector will develop. In July, the first space command center opened at British Air Force Base High Wycombe. A significant part of the investment program, under which the British military will be allocated 16 billion pounds over three years, is aimed specifically at the development of defense capabilities in space.
Step 2: international trade
“As an independent trading nation, we are taking our place on the global stage by promoting free trade, lowering market barriers and building exciting new economic partnerships. space exploration, “the document says.
The first of the space cooperation agreements was signed with Australia, one of the UK's partners in the AUKUS defense alliance, which also includes the United States.
A partnership agreement called “Space Bridge”, signed in February, will help governments jointly develop their space capabilities by sharing expertise and personnel. Britain wants to conclude similar agreements with several other countries.
The #SpaceStrategyUK has been launched! 🇬🇧🚀🛰️
The strategy outlines the government’s long-term plans for the UK space sector, including building on manufacturing and technological capacity, attracting investment and working internationally. 🌍
— UK Space Agency (@spacegovuk) September 27, 2021
In early September, it became known that Australia would receive nuclear submarine construction technologies from its allies, which angered Paris and Beijing. China accused allies of the post-colonial British alliance of Cold War thinking, and Paris resented Australia over the cancellation of a submarine contract.
The strategy, however, emphasizes that Britain will actively cooperate with the European Space Agency and maintain its role in it, but at the same time build its own network of bilateral agreements with partners.
Thus, the modern “global Britain” – as Johnson's government calls the United Kingdom after Brexit – will turn, as the prime minister hopes, into “Galactic Britain.”
Step 3: “galactic Britain”
After transforming into a space superpower with incomparable scientific potential, Britain intends to become one of the leaders in the regulation of the global space industry. The strategy calls it “Promoting the Values of Global Britain”.
“We will maintain a transparent world order through our work in space. We will demonstrate global leadership in the debate on security and sustainable development and hold other nations accountable for their actions in space. We will promote responsible behavior to avoid mistakes, escalation and conflict . Together with British partners, we are modernizing the rules for the peaceful and responsible use of space, “the document says.
The space industries of the future, in which the UK plans to lead, are, for example, removing space debris from orbit, repairing satellites right in space, or even building new ones.
Politically, Britain wants to use its “space ecosystem” to tackle global challenges such as biodiversity conservation or support for the National Health Service, the strategy says.
This final phase of the strategy will begin in 2030, already in nine years, the government plans.