Blog written by Lewie Haar, ADS Public Affairs Advisor. 

Baroness Vere, the new Aviation, Space and Local Transport Minister led a Department for Transport (DfT) webinar titled Satellite enabled growth in the transport sector on 12th October.  

In her opening remarks, the Minister highlighted the space industry’s key role in driving innovation and bringing high-skilled jobs to the remote regions that need them. The Minister described how the Government has significant ambitions for the space industry, including the expectation of the first commercial space launch from the UK by the end of the year. The Minister explained how DfT is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure the long-term success of the entire sector and described how space, and in particular satellite technology, can be used to drive improvements and innovation in transport. The Minister ended her remarks by expressing that she is delighted to be the new Space Minister within DfT and that her door remains open for feedback. 

Baroness Vere’s remarks were followed by Dr. Kathy Bass, the Deputy Director of Space Strategy Implementation and UKSA Sponsorship within BEIS. Dr. Bass expressed how driving growth in the space sector is a major priority for this government, as space and satellite technology underpin our lives in more ways than we can count. Dr Bass described how space technology can be used to improve and administer public services, fight climate change, and modernise our transport systems. The Government is looking to utilise its international partnerships to leverage the incredible expertise based in the UK, and work with military to ensure national interests are defended.

Next to speak was Paul Cremin, Head of Commercial Spaceflight Policy and Regulation within DfT. Mr. Cremin highlighted how commercial access to space is a major priority for the Government. His team is working to support the National Space Council and deliver a new ambitious National Space Strategy. Echoing Baroness Vere, he highlighted the goal of achieving the first safe UK commercial spaceflight launch from a UK spaceport in 2022. The DfT is working to ensure that the Space Industry Act (2018) and Space Industry Regulations continue to provide a modern legal framework that is internationally competitive and supports innovation and growth, doing so in a way that is safe and provides opportunity for industry. 

The webinar closed with a presentation from Gary Wade and Liam Braeger of Satellite Applications Catapult, one of ADS’s members in the Space Sector. They brought attention to three practical applications of the National Space Strategy and how it is being rolled out: 

  • Low Earth Orbit (LEO) connectivity, which eliminates cellular not spots, is low cost, and has multiple transport applications; 
  • LEO PNT (Position, Navigation and Timing); 
  • Geospatial Intelligence: in a partnership with Transport Canada, National Research Council Canada, and others, Catapult has developed and trialed a cloud-based platform that used satellite technology to predict maintenance for bridges, ports, and airport infrastructure: 
    • The technology can be used to monitor and create predictive maintenance timetables and detect leaks in oil and nuclear plants; 
    • It can also help avoid disasters such as the 2018 Genoa bridge collapse. 

Overall, the webinar was highly informative and brought attention to how space and satellite technology are driving innovation in the transport sector. The Minister later tweeted that she was delighted to chair the webinar and discuss UK spaceflight and how satellite technology enables growth.