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UK furthers commitment to space exploration

UK: On its first anniversary, the UK Space Agency announced that it has become an executive agency of the department for business, innovation and skills. The Agency was formally established on April 1, 2010. It is now taking over responsibility for the majority of the UK’s commitment to space exploration and science. Efforts will be targeted at areas that have the greatest potential for delivering economic benefits, scientific excellence and national security.

Priority areas include developing scientific advancements in space technologies, gaining a better understanding of Earth through Earth observation spacecraft, and nurturing next generation of space scientists and researchers.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said, “The UK space industry is worth an estimated GBP 7.5 billion and is an important driver for economic growth. This is why we have earmarked GBP 10 million in the budget to start a national space technology programme and committed to reducing the regulatory burden on industry. The establishment of the Agency will provide a focal point for this work and bring together our very best talent. This will help us concentrate efforts on advancements in space science and satellite technology, and ultimately give us a better understanding of our own planet.”

UK Space Agency Chief Executive David Williams said, “Now established, we need to use the upcoming months to set the direction of travel for the UK space sector. That means concentrating on encouraging growth and engaging with industry, academia and other government departments to make sure we’re developing in the right way.”

As part of the Budget and Growth Review, the UK Government has:
– Earmarked GBP 10 million to start a national space technology programme with industry aimed at promoting economic growth and self sustainability, which will be channelled through the UK Space Agency.
– Committed to reforming the Outer Space Act – this will introduce an upper limit on the third party liability of UK satellite operators, making the industry more internationally competitive.
– Committed to working with the international regulatory authorities to enable space tourism operations in the UK and define regulations for novel space vehicles that offer low cost access to space.

The UK Space Agency will continue to build links between industry and the research community. It will work with other UK organisations such as the Technology Strategy Board, the Research Councils, the International Space Innovation Centre and the Met Office, and overseas agencies including the European Space Agency and NASA.

Source: UK Space Agency