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National Space Policy: science fiction into science fact

The UK is publishing its first National Space Policy as Britain's first ESA astronaut launches to the International Space Station (ISS).

View of London
London. Credit DMCii

As Britain’s first European Space Agency astronaut prepares for his historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on 15 December, the Government is publishing the UK’s first ever National Space Policy – firmly placing the UK on the global stage for future space programmes.

National Space Policy

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With the UK aiming to become the European hub for commercial spaceflight and related space sector technologies, this new policy sets out the Government’s vision to capture a greater share of the world’s thriving space market. Working across the UK in partnership with the rapidly growing sector, this One Nation policy will ensure the UK seizes opportunities to deliver new business opportunities, create jobs and push the boundaries of our understanding of space.

Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid said:

For decades mankind has dreamt of space travel and the final frontier, and from today the UK will trigger the next scientific and innovation revolution to turn science fiction in to science fact.

Not only are we celebrating the launch of the first UK Government-backed astronaut, but our first ever space policy will build on the inspiration he provides to grow our burgeoning space industry and bring space back down to Earth.

Historically we haven’t been a major player in space programmes, this policy will change that because, in the words of my hero Mr Spock, to do anything else would be highly illogical.

Worth £11.8 billion to our economy and supporting numerous vital services like disaster relief, defence and transport, the Government is committed to growing the UK’s commercial space sector – with an ambition to capture 10% of the global market supporting 100,000 new jobs and generating £40bn for our economy by 2030.

The National Space Policy supports the Government’s new investments in areas such as human spaceflight and microgravity research as space becomes an increasingly essential part of our daily lives and a huge success story for the UK. UK projects are already leading the world in issues like monitoring and combatting climate change and supporting developing nations.

The NSP commits to four key principles in the government’s use of space. The Government:

  • recognises that space is of strategic importance to the UK because of the value that space programmes deliver back to public services, national security, science and innovation and the economy
  • commits to preserving and promoting the safety and security of the unique space operating environment, free from interference
  • supports the growth of a robust and competitive commercial space sector, underpinned by excellent academic research
  • commits to cooperating internationally to create the legal frameworks for the responsible use of space and to collaborating with other nations to deliver maximum benefit from UK investment in space

The National Space Policy spells out the roles and responsibilities of 17 different government organisations involved with space, showcasing how policy areas across the country are shaped by satellite data and services. It also supports the Government’s commitment to manufacturing and services, as well as international collaboration to deliver outstanding science and technology development.

Along with increased investment in the European Space Agency, over the last three years the UK Space Agency has committed to the UK’s participation in the International Space Station. This decision at the 2014 European Space Agency Council of Ministers saw the UK take a strategic decision to invest in the ISS and in the scientific programmes that will help British academia take advantage of this unique platform for research in space.

Published 13 December 2015