UK Space Agency and ISIC created

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A UK Space Innovation and Growth Strategy 2010 to 2030 - .PDF file.

Britain’s space sector has been given a boost with the creation of the UK Space Agency and a £40m International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) sited in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson and science minister Lord Drayson announced the ISIC, supported by £12m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Strategic Investment Fund, at today’s launch of the UK Space Agency.

The centre, to be sited with the European Space Agency facility opened last July, will provide a central hub for British space activity.

Funded through public and industry investment, the ISIC will establish centres of excellence in the UK to exploit the data generated by Earth Observation satellites; use space data to understand climate change; and advise on the security and resilience of space systems and services.

The space and satellite industry supports 68,000 jobs in the UK and contributes £6bn to the economy. The sector underpins high-speed broadband, high-definition television, GPS and weather forecasting.

Lord Drayson said: ‘The action we’re taking today shows that we’re really serious about space. The UK Space Agency will give the sector the muscle it needs to fulfil its ambition. Britain’s space industry has defied the recession. It can grow to £40bn a year and create 100,000 jobs in 20 years.’

The UK Space Agency is expected to bring together all UK civil space activities under one single management.

A new Space Leadership Council will also be established to provide advice on the implementation of the government response to the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS) published on 10 February 2010. The council will include representatives from industry, academia and government.

The UK Space Agency will take over responsibility for BIS policy and key government budgets for space. This will start with the ESA subscriptions currently funded by NERC, STFC and TSB, and subsequently managing UK interests in EU projects including the space component of Global Monitoring for Environment and Security(GMES), and Galileo.

These are currently the responsibility of Defra and DFT, respectively. It has also been agreed in principle that the agency will manage the UK’s financial interest in the EU Satellite Centre, which is currently the responsibility of the MoD.

The agency will also begin to take responsibility for space funding for technology and instruments currently carried out by the research councils and TSB. Negotiations with international bodies will also be handled by the agency.

Further measures to support the British space industry announced today include commitments to:

Develop a National Space Technology Strategy to make sure the space sector delivers its potential, overseen by an industry-led steering group;

Ensure the observations needed for climate monitoring to enable the UK to strengthen its leadership role in climate-change policy and science;

Establish a senior-level expert panel to take a view of emerging space capabilities to reflect these in future national security and defence planning; and

Work with industry to set out how space-enabled services can help deliver next-generation broadband.