The boss of Scottish rocket launch firm Skyrora has welcomed a new government space strategy that he said will make the UK a ‘superpower’ in the global space race.
Company CEO Volodymyr Levykin said that the Government’s National Space Strategy has outlined how important space industries can be for the country and its economy, as well as laying the foundations for the UK to have a “seat at the top table” of the emerging sector.
A long-term vision for how the UK can establish itself as an attractive and innovative space economy on the world stage was set out as part of the plans, according to the Government.
The strategy promises to make the UK a science and technology leader through investment, with current projections indicating that the global space economy will be worth around £490 billion by 2030.
The space sector is currently worth more than £16.4bn to the UK economy per year, supporting around 45,000 jobs, including scientists and entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators.
Hope is that the National Space Strategy will allow space firms to access private finance through space-oriented venture capital funds. While there are also plans to build a ‘space bridge’ in co-operation with the Australian government in what will be a new space trading partnership.
Commenting on the strategy, Levykin said: “This announcement has been a long time coming, and perhaps for the first time, we have some clarity and direction on how our country will utilise its space credentials.
“It comes at a time when private companies from around the world are breaking the boundaries of what is possible in space.
“At Skyrora, we have been crying out for direction from the UK Government and its plans for space, so we are delighted to have a coherent blueprint in place which will shape the country’s economy, job market and global influence for the better.
“This focus puts the UK on course to become a superpower in the global space race.”
The strategy outlines the UK’s ambition to be the first country to launch rockets into orbit from Europe next in its aim to become a world leader in commercial small satellite launches.
Edinburgh-based Skyrora has ambitions to launch its 23-metre, 56-tonne, three-stage rocket, Skyrora XL rocket from the UK in 2022 and has recently received funding of €3m from the European Space Agency to help achieve these goals.
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Separate legislation announced in July laid out plans for five out of seven new UK spaceports to be built in Scotland, with proposed locations including the Western Isles, Glasgow, Machrihanish, Sutherland and Shetland.
Levykin continued: “The strategy brings us one step forward in achieving our goal for UK sovereign launch.
“We are continually developing new ways of launching satellites without damaging the environment as well as creating an eco-friendly fuel that ensures the UK has the most environmentally friendly space industry in the world.
“At present, we are working with the UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority to launch our primed rocket, Skylark L, which can be launched by our mobile launch complex.
“Skyrora is just one of many space firms around the country creating an astonishing feast of engineering to contribute to the collective goal of enhancing the UK’s space credentials.”