Good use of space?

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UK in space – BNSC annual report 2009 - .PDF file.

Here’s a quick Friday lunchtime brainteaser for you. What UK industry has grown by nine per cent a year since 2000, contributes £6.5bn a year to the economy and supports 68,000 jobs?

The answer is Britain’s space and satellite sector, which is set to operate under a new – and as yet unnamed – executive agency, replacing the British National Space Centre (BNSC), which coordinates the UK’s civil space activities.

Yesterday’s announcement is the culmination of a 12 week review that began late July that set out to investigate whether the UK’s civil space strategy could be better served by a single agency.

The move toward a single UK space agency has been heralded as ‘recession busting’.

Reports from UKSpace entitled Case4Space and Space Secures Prosperity properly highlight the high-value of space to the UK’s skills base and economy.

The move has also been described as ‘bureaucracy busting’, bringing together a range of budgets into one place to improve strategic decision making.

Looking into the future, it remains to be seen whether this will be backed up by a coherent structure with coordinated funding that incorporates space science and other potential avenues for space expenditure.

‘Space is not just about space exploration,’ commented Bob Cockshott, space spokesperson for the Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network. ‘Its also about using space technology to improve our lives down on the ground.’

Whatever form the new agency takes, let’s hope it allows Britain to safeguard the skills and expertise already honed in order to take advantage of a world increasingly reliant on advances in space innovations

Jason Ford

News Editor