by Skyrora Team

UK space agency. Things to consider in 2020.

UK space agency -  things to consider in 2020

Political uncertainties

UK space Chairman Graham Peters is confident about the prospects and trends that 2020 offers for the space industry in the UK and the global space community at large, based on a number of important achievements and developments that have been announced over the last few months.

Exclusion from Galileo

Recent years of the past decade have been characterized by significant political uncertainties and a changing scene for the UK space industry and UK space agency. A key factor has been the European Union's decision to exclude the UK from Galileo. Although this was a highly unfortunate achievement, among the unwitting advantages was the sudden political relevance of space. A further important European program in which Great Britain has played a major role is Copernicus, the Earth monitoring project managed by the EU but supplied by ESA, for which Great Britain made a major contribution.

UK Space agency chairman comments

Graham Turnock, chairman of the UK space agency, comments the conditions for the United Kingdom's participation remain to be specified. Anyway, the preparation, as well as the operation of Copernicus, certainly represents a challenge to the continuous improvement of the ESA-EU relationship. Shortly afterward, Boris Johnson was standing in front of 10 Downing Street, just after he became Prime Minister, and announced: "Let's start now with having our own position tracking and our own time satellites and Earth monitoring stations. The narrative change has had a deep effect on the way the entire government views space. However, Mr. Turnock states clearly that the outlook for Brexit has provided chances. In fact, the staff of the UK space agency has approximately twice the size, reaching around 250 employees. Moreover, the perspective of lost access to Galileo has resulted in the first work to establish an autonomous United Kingdom capacity in the field of global sat-nav.

New manifesto

UKspace published its manifesto for 2020, reaffirming the importance of a separate British GNSS system after Brexit. The document outlines the issues on which the UK government should concentrate in order to achieve the full benefits of the space industry and provides key pointers.
According to the new document, the UK's post-Brexit contribution to a new GNSS scheme should be ensured, whether by ESA or by sovereign capacity.
While the UK will certainly not be included in Galileo, enhanced collaboration with ESA to help mitigate global warming and achieve the target of net-zero carbon emission by 2050 is one thing the manifesto strongly suggests. Copernicus is crucial for the way we are able to study Earth systems, track emissions, and carry out environmental monitoring. It is vital that the UK space industry is capable of guiding forthcoming Copernicus program operations to Brexit. The manifesto underlines the importance of either a post-Brexit deal with the EU or a specific partnership program with ESA.

Improved ESA financing

The Manifesto recognizes the importance of wide-ranging global cooperation and demands, as well as an increase in ESA financing. In a field such as space, the proposed financing is essential both to ensure proper operation as well as to trigger innovation.
"European Space Agency (ESA) funding is essential to make sure that industry is able to design and produce the space technologies, skills, and delivery networks required to secure Britain's place in the world' space arena," the Manifesto says.
It further states that the British government should explore every possible way to secure financing and that the UK space industry could struggle without ESA resources.
The setting up of a national space program will also be discussed. The space industry is a branch that historically depends on government funding to support research and development, establish a science base, and create partnerships.

New space exploration project

"The government was to establish a National Space program, which would include a new £150 million per year innovation fund. The main objective of the National Space Program is to make sure that the UK space industry is playing an increased role in the world space arena," the manifesto continues. It also states that priority should be given to the commercialization of science and engineering to exploit emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, and sophisticated production.
It also identifies five key programs that the National Space Program needs to concentrate on. The programs are Sovereign Geospatial Data; Pervasive, Robust and Safe Connectivity; Robust Security Solutions for Position, Navigation, and Timing; In-Orbit Mounting, Maintenance, and Debris Disposal; and Food Security.

Space Council

Following the example of the USA, there are also demands for the creation of a National Space Council, which should have the power and resources to take the industry to the next level. The NSC would be able to bring together the space community throughout Whitehall and contribute to the use of public funds to benefit government services and help the industry grow. The National Space Council should work in proper ways to collaborate with industry and academia to improve its know-how and references, it points out. By and large, according to the head of the UK space agency, Graham Turnock, the British space industry would have the opportunity to flourish by using its "excellent relations" with not only "traditional aerospace players" like the USA and Europe, but equally with "innovative players" like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
He is equally critical of the need for a UK space agency to develop a strong domestic aerospace program and take full advantage of the increasing demand for what are known as "dual-use" space capabilities, which bring together military and civil uses.

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