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- November 27th, 2019 Posted in News
  • The UK Space Agency has today made the largest contribution in UK history to the European Space Agency
  • The annual £374 million investment will deliver international space programmes to address climate change, deliver high-speed mobile technology around the world and return the first samples from Mars
  • The announcement was confirmed at the 2019 ESA Ministerial Council in Seville, Spain

27 November 2019 – The UK Space Agency has today announced that it will invest record levels in the UK’s membership of the European Space Agency. The funding, of £374 million per year, will deliver international space programmes over the next five years – maintaining the UK’s position as a space and science superpower.

The UK is one of the founding members of the European Space Agency (ESA), an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space. It has 22 member states, including Norway, Switzerland and Canada, and is independent of the European Union. ESA was established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development.

Membership of ESA allows the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme, which aims to send a UK-built rover to study the environment on Mars. ESA coordinates the financial and intellectual resources of its members to enable it to undertake programmes and activities beyond the scope of any single country. It enables the UK and other member states to choose which programmes to invest in, based on those that best meet their scientific, industrial and strategic priorities.

The investment, confirmed today at the 2019 ESA Ministerial Council in Seville, Spain, will see the UK’s funding
package for ESA rise to £374 million annually. This is an increase of 15%. It delivers on commitments in the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy, agreed between government and the UK space industry in 2008, to double investment by 2020.

The UK’s investment in ESA will secure our involvement in international space missions and the development
of new technologies. This could include:

  • Building the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon
  • Returning the first samples from Mars
  • New satellites to help us better understand, monitor and prevent climate change
  • Research in space technology that will deliver high-speed mobile technology around the world
  • Removing space debris, to prevent collisions in space.

Independent research by London Economics has found that every £1 of UK investment in ESA returns £10 to our economy in direct and indirect benefits, including supporting 42,000 jobs.

Announcing the new funding package for ESA, Andrea Leadsom, The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “We are delighted to be making this investment in ESA today. From improving communication and connectivity, to helping us monitor the impact of climate change and protect our power grid, our membership of this international organisation will further our position as a space, innovation and climate superpower”.

Space Minister Chris Skidmore said: “We are increasing our investment in space to record levels thanks to this Government’s unrivalled commitment to space. This unparalleled 15% rise in our contribution comes after the Conservative manifesto has pledged to double our science and research budget. By making the largest ESA contribution in the UK’s history, we will now lead on some crucial climate and earth observation missions, while showing that we can and will strengthen our international partnerships – unleashing Britain’s potential for the future.”