Lord Sainsbury, the UK Minister for Science and Innovation, has spoken today of the strength of UK space activities at the International Future for Space forum at Farnborough Airshow.
He also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the Algerian Space Agency, opening up the possibility of further collaboration between the two countries.
Speaking alongside Mr Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA); Dr Michael Griffin, the Administrator of NASA; Dr Anatoly Perminov, the Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency; Mr Kaoru Mamiya, the Vice-President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; and Dr Azzedine Oussedik, the Director General of the Algerian Space Agency, Lord Sainsbury said:
"The UK space industry is worth £4.8 billion and has seen an increase in turnover of 8% in the last year alone, so space really matters to the UK from a commercial point of view."
With more than half the UK's annual spend in space activities being invested in ESA programmes, Lord Sainsbury gave two examples of how this involvement has been positive for both the UK and Europe.
He said: "UK participation in ESA's Advanced Research in Telecommunications programme, ARTES, has led to UK companies securing commercial orders to supply satellites to the Paradigm & Inmarsat organisations for their Skynet 5 and Inmarsat-4 series of spacecraft. While in the downstream sector, the UK-led "Highly Adaptable Satellite" (HYLAS) project will begin a low cost and low risk satellite broadband initiative to resolve the problem of the digital divide in Europe."
Lord Sainsbury also spoke of other international partnerships with strong UK involvement:
"In just a few days time, NASA will launch STEREO. This pair of space-sentinels will provide the first 3D view of solar storms as they hurl billions of tons of material towards our planet. UK universities and laboratories have provided the 'eyes' of the two spacecraft."
He then spoke of the leading role the UK plays in the field of Earth Observation:
"The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) of satellites, built by the UK company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, comprises five satellites which are owned by the UK, Algeria, Nigeria, Turkey and China. In 2005, the UK Government, on behalf of the DMC Partnership, formally joined the world's major space agencies in adhering to the Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters'. This is an area of enormous importance for the UK."
Lord Sainsbury concluded:
"These examples illustrate very vividly the many benefits that can be achieved when we co-operate in space. In the future, I am certain we will see an ever-increasing opportunity for working together, as we face the many global challenges ahead."
--The British National Space Centre (BNSC) is the Government body at the heart of UK civil space activity, supporting academic research, championing UK industry and publicising the diverse benefits of space to a wide audience.
-- BNSC is a partnership of 11 Government departments, agencies and research councils. They are: the Department of Trade and Industry; the Office of Science and Innovation; the Department for Education and Skills; the Department for Transport; the Ministry of Defence; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils; the Natural Environment Research Council; the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council; and the Met Office.