News story

Minister gives space industry added boost

In a speech at the Farnborough Air Show, the Minister will highlight the powerful economic growth potential that the £9.1 billion UK space industry…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


In a speech at the Farnborough Air Show, the Minister will highlight the powerful economic growth potential that the £9.1 billion UK space industry has to offer.

During the speech the Minister will announce:

  • The potential of generating a specialised spaceport in the UK for commercial use;

  • The location of the new Satellite Applications Catapult to be based at Harwell in Oxfordshire;

  • The publication of a new four year Civil Space Strategy; and

  • Confirmation of up to £10 million of Technology Strategy Board money being allocated to space.

Speaking on the potential for a specialised space port, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“Space-related technologies are advancing at a substantial pace - nowhere more so, arguably, than in launch systems. This is an area where the likes of Virgin Galactic and potentially the Skylon space plane being developed by Reaction Engines could be game changers in commercial space travel.

“Europe must be ready to grab this opportunity. It would be a tragedy to lose out because the EU failed to formulate a regulatory framework to allow reusable aircraft-type launchers to operate here.

“I will work with Justine Greening at the Department for Transport, to determine how the UK and Europe can best position itself to take advantage of space plane activities. We’ll be exploring the type of certification needed for space crafts and identifying the essential characteristics of an operational spaceport.”

On the location of the Satellite Catapult he added:

“Another area where I’m keen to see further progress is at Harwell, Oxfordshire and I’m delighted to announce today that the Satellite Applications Catapult will be located there. The Catapult will give real impetus to commercial development from our space assets - as will confirmation from the Technology Strategy Board that, from its £250 million budget for speeding up innovation in priority areas over the coming financial year, up to £10 million will be allocated to space.”

On the Civil Space Strategy Mr Willetts said:

“The bigger picture, of course, is making sure that space continues to be a key enabler of economic growth - and that’s the central goal of the revised Civil Space Strategy that I am publishing here today. The document, covering the next four years, focuses on creating new opportunities for industry, bolstering the role of space in the UK’s infrastructure and furthering the National Space Technology Programme.”

**Notes to editors:

**1. David Willetts will be speaking today at the Farnborough Air Show’s Space Day Conference. A check against delivery version of the speech will be available from the BIS press office after 12pm.

  1. The Government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.’ It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20

  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

  1. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

Name BIS Press Office Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Phone




Name Dan Palmer Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Phone 020 7215 5303 Fax



Published 10 July 2012