#WSW2017 – UK skyrockets in global space industry

From Wednesday 4 October to 10 October, thousands of events are taking place across the globe putting the spotlight on World Space Week – an annual celebration of the worldwide Space sector which was declared by the United Nations General assembly in 1999.

The UK’s space industry is skyrocketing, seeing 70% growth since 2010 – more than a third of ADS Members operate in the sector. Last year, the UK space sector had an annual turnover of £14 billion, adding £5 billion of value to the UK economy. The industry directly employs more than 40,000 people, including 1,400 apprentices, with many more within the supply chain, paving the way to next generation technology.

Although many of these technologies are not in plain sight, they play a key role in our day to day lives, as well as contributing to national security:

  • Access to the internet
  • Calls on mobile phones
  • GPS on satnavs
  • Card machines and ATMs
  • Providing communications for British forces
  • Disaster monitoring
  • Tackling climate change

Drones are just one example of how the Space sector supports other industries. Drones rely on secure satellite signals to ensure safe operations; from delivering goods, monitoring crops, providing security and taking part in search and rescue missions.

The UK is home to companies that are working on innovative projects, revolutionising current technologies in space that are making waves globally:

  • 40% of the world’s small satellites are made in the UK
  • 25% of the world’s telecomm satellites are made at Airbus in Stevenage
  • Oxford Space Systems is working on a number of projects which are propelling the UK’s capabilities in markets that are currently US-dominated, creating prospect for the UK to become the centre for Large Deployable Antenna technologies within Europe.
  • Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage is leading the ExoMars rover’s construction – the first rover of the ExoMars mission in 2020 will have been developed, built and tested in the UK.
  • Reaction Engines is developing its SABRE rocket engine to power aircraft from standstill on the runway and then transition to rocket-mode, allowing spaceflight. SABRE can take aircraft/spacecraft from a standing start to over five times the speed of sound for hypersonic flight in the atmosphere, and over 25 times the speed of sound for space access
  • Inmarsat has developed a global satellite network, Global Xpress, delivers seamless, globally-available, high-speed broadband connectivity on land, at sea, and in the air.