As Nick Shave takes up his new appointment as Chair of UKspace today, he outlines his vision for UKspace in helping the UK become a modern space power.
I write this blog on the day that the Terms of Reference and membership of the National Space Council has been published by Government in an updated list of Cabinet Committees. A very welcome development, signaling the intention to co-ordinate issues relating to space across all of government from the three perspectives of prosperity, diplomacy and national security.
As I take over the reins from Graham Peters in the role of UKspace Chair, recognising Graham’s strong leadership and commitment in a challenging period given both Brexit and COVID-19, I would like to outline my vision for the next two years at what I believe is an inflection point for our sector.
The next few months – with the development of a new National Space Strategy, the Integrated Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – present a once in a generation opportunity for the UK space sector. If we are to secure the outcome we want, we must be better than ever at demonstrating our value as a highly skilled, productive and innovative sector, critical to the UK’s future prosperity.
But we must do much more than that. We need a major strategic reframing to reflect the UK’s ‘core’ space capability as a strategic asset, and that it is critical to our security (defence, national resilience) and global influence. By doing so, we can help the government translate top-level political commitment into the strategy, investment and delivery architecture needed for the UK to become a modern space power.
The five key outcomes that I believe government, academia and industry must work closely together to achieve by June 2022 are:
- Space is integral in the outcome of Integrated Review, recognised as a critical strategic asset for UK security, global influence and prosperity.
- An ambitious National Space Strategy in place with a clear vision for space (strategic, prosperity, science, civil and defence) with major departmental and cross-government programmes and investment to implement the strategy.
- Government-industry co-creation of a compelling CSR proposal, aligned to national strategic priorities that industry can contribute to with our own R&D investment where appropriate. Within this, delivery plans for ubiquitous platform connectivity via advanced digital satcom, viable space-based Positioning Navigation & Timing, horizontal & vertical UK launch and national Earth Observation (EO) capability as anchors to a multi-year National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP). These initiatives propelling the UK forward to capture significant commercial opportunities in the fast-growing global connectivity, resilient navigation, small satellite launch, and EO / climate monitoring markets.
- The National Space Council (NSpC) fully operational, with strong government-industry-academia advisory representation and an appropriate, funded delivery architecture to implement space policy directives via a “Space Growth Partnership 2.0” – the national space delivery capability we need. Moreover, targeted new “space innovation hubs” to drive growth across all nations and regions of the United Kingdom, spurred on by entrepreneurial SMEs of the likes we have seen located at Harwell, Leicester and Glasgow as examples.
- UK on a clear roadmap to becoming a modern space power. A vibrant and world-leading space industry, focusing on our space sector strengths as a nation, leveraging our European Space Agency and NSIP investments to deliver prosperity, global influence and security for the whole of the UK and out on the world stage.
I very much look forward to working with you on this journey. Let us be ambitious to take UKspace to the next level.