UK competes for estimated 2,000 satellite launches by 2030

Oxford Space Systems

New figures published  by the UK Space Agency reveal that the UK could compete in a high value market to launch an estimated 2,000 satellites by 2030.

Commercial vertical and horizontal launch demand is worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and will support further growth of Britain’s space sector.

A number of sites across the UK are developing their spaceport plans and engaging with regulators, demonstrating the scale of the industry’s ambition and confidence in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain.

In July the government announced four sites for potential space ports: a vertical space port in Sunderland,  and horizontal launch sites in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia.

Thanks to the UK’s location, planned regulatory framework, private sector strategy and space ecosystem, Britain has a competitive advantage to compete for a substantial share of a market for launching an estimated 2,000 small satellites by 2030.

Existing ‘rideshare’ small satellite launches (small satellites piggybacking on larger missions) are capable of meeting less than 35% of the total demand. This reveals a significant gap in commercial small satellite launch provision for which future UK spaceports are well placed to compete.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our Industrial Strategy.The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is an exciting new era for the UK space industry, and is only the beginning of our LaunchUK campaign. We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the UK, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here.”

Low cost access to space is important for the UK’s thriving space sector which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe.

Read our report from the annual Bessemer Society Oxford dinner in our upcoming September issue. This year’s topic was the growing space sector and guests included some of the UK’s most exciting space entrepreneurs. Keynote speaker was The Rt Hon Sir David Willetts, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation. He served as Minister for Universities and Science and previously worked at HM Treasury and the No. 10 Policy Unit.