The Government has published its long-awaited National Space Strategy (NSS). It was launched today by George Freeman MP during the Opening Plenary at the UK Space Conference.

Following in the footsteps of the Government’s Integrated Review, published in spring earlier this year, the NSS sets out the Government’s ambitions to grow the UK as a ‘space nation’ and bring together civil and defence space policy in a coordinated way. The UK Space sector hit £16.4bn turnover in 2020, directly employs 45,000 people, and is a critical element of our national defence and security, so the strategy comes at an ideal moment to put rocket boosters under this vital sector.

The strategy sets out a four-pillar plan to grow the UK Space sector and make the UK a meaningful space actor. Firstly, it sets out to unlock growth in the sector. Secondly, it outlines plans for international collaboration with the UK’s partners and allies. Thirdly, it focuses on growing the UK as a space science and technology superpower. Finally, it puts forward a plan to develop resilient space capabilities.

In a welcome note of realism, the Government has recognised that the sheer scope of activity taking place across the UK Space sector will make delivering the NSS a challenge, and for that reason early priorities for action are set out in the NSS’s Ten Point Plan. This plan includes steps to capture the European market in commercial small satellite launch; develop world-class space clusters; upskill and inspire the future space workforce; and utilise space to improve public services and transform the transport system.

The importance of the goal to coordinate civil and defence space policy should not be missed. With commitments from UK Defence to invest £5bn in military satellite communication capabilities and £1.2bn in new Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, the NSS confirms the launch of the UK’s first Defence Space Portfolio. ADS looks forward to the release of the UK Defence Space Strategy later this year, which will provide further details on the UK’s defence space ambitions.

While UK industry will still await decisions made within the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review on the budgets set for government space activities, the NSS marks an important moment in the collaboration between Government, industry and academia to strengthen the UK as a world-class space nation. The bold approach set out and the recognition of Space as a strategically important capability area will therefore be warmly welcomed by the sector.

Commenting on the strategy, ADS Chief Executive Kevin Craven said:

“ADS welcomes the new National Space Strategy which outlines ambitions plans to support the long-term future of the UK’s prosperous Space sector and capitalises on UK strengths such as satellite manufacturing.

The future growth of the Space sector, will leverage UK sovereign Space capability and enable increased regional prosperity and employment opportunity across the UK supporting high value manufacturing hubs, further strengthening the UK as a world-class space nation.

Space continues to play a growing role in our lives and is a vital part of the UK economy so we welcome the bold approach as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Delivering it will be critical for the sector.”