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3,400 new jobs created in UK Space Sector

16:16 04 February in News

The most comprehensive measurement of the UK space industry yet, analysing 948 UK-based space-related organisations and comprising 276 survey responses and research of more than 600 companies, has been summarised in the latest ‘Size & Health of the UK Space Industry 2018’ report. An infographic has also been published alongside the report, providing a clear synopsis of the new figures.

Insights gathered from the survey play an important role in shaping UK space policy and targeting support to industry to reach the 10% global share ambition by 2030. The report shows that, compared to the previous survey:

  • income in the space sector is up from £13.7 billion to £14.8 billion
  • employment is up from 38,522 to 41,900
  • exports have increased from £5 billion to £5.5 billion
  • an average of 39 new companies have been added to the UK space sector every year since 2012.

Much of this growth is due to space manufacturing, including satellites, ground systems and components, which increased at a rate of 27% per year. The UK has significant capabilities in this area, building major parts for one in four of the world’s commercial telecommunications satellites.

Beyond the direct effects of the space industry, the satellite services industry supports a wealth of other sectors worth an estimated £300 billion of UK GDP, up from £250 billion from the previous survey. Earth Observation services, such as data for monitoring land use and agriculture, is a significant growth area, supporting £92 billion of GDP and growing at a rate of 25% per year.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“Our Space industry is a great UK success story. New innovations and pioneering experts are helping the sector to grow faster than the rest of the economy as whole.

“The industry is not only providing thousands of new high-skilled jobs but supports a wealth of other sectors worth an estimated £300 billion to the UK.

“By investing in important infrastructure such as the National Satellite Test Facility near Oxford and establishing satellite launch capabilities, our modern Industrial Strategy is helping our space sector to thrive.”

Paul Britton, CEO of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“Delighted to learn of the positive news contained in this report. The space industry has long been a key strength of the Thames Valley region, and I look forward to seeing further growth in this sector.”

The Thames Valley is at the centre of the UK’s space industry and the UK Space Agency has its headquarters in Swindon. The region is particularly known for Harwell, the gateway to the sector in the UK and home to The European Space Agency (ESA) and its European Centre for Satellite Applications & Telecoms (ECSAT), STFC’s long-established RAL Space Centre and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Examples of growing space-related companies located in the region include:

  • Thales Alenia Space, which established its British subsidiary at Harwell in 2014. The UK business is an integral part of the Neosat project, contributing to the design and production of the propulsion system for this platform. The company’s space-related jobs in the UK have grown from 10 in 2014 to 200 in 2018 based across Belfast, Bristol and Harwell. That total is estimated to grow to 350 by 2020.
  • Oxford Space Systems, which has recently moved to new headquarters at Harwell. Since forming in 2013, the company has raised more than £10 million to build innovative and lightweight spacecraft antennas and deployable booms. In 2015, the company was selected for the UK Space Agency’s AlSat Nano mission, achieving a world-first with the longest ever retractable CubeSat boom in orbit at 1.5 metres. It currently employs around 30 staff but is set to expand significantly. The Ministry of Defence recently announced a £1 million investment in the development of an innovative ‘wrapped rib’ antenna by the company.

Further information on the Size & Health of the UK Space Industry Report can be found here.