National Space Strategy - One small step for Global Britain
The U.K.’s role in man’s mission to space can fairly be described as supporting. Often it is the brightest minds of the U.K. that provided the engineering know how to astronauts or the understanding of our cosmos that made headlines for other nations; from Tecwyn Roberts to Stephen Hawking. In Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s words “When it comes to getting off-the-ground we contribute to the work of others rather than take the lead ourselves.” It is precisely that position that the National Space Strategy aims to change, empowering the U.K. within the competitive global space industry.
When we think of space, we often think of the grainy black and white images of Neil Armstrong in 1969 and it can feel likes space is something quite abstract. The reality is each of us engages with space technology on a daily basis. From the navigation tools on your smart phone to simply checking the weather, you are receiving information from space. Space technologies keep us connected with friends and family, monitor climate change and help to keep our troops safe abroad through innovative communications networks. In the U.K., the space sector already contributes £350billion to the economy and supports more than 45,000 jobs. As you can see, space is a reality and touches almost all aspects of our day to day life.
Its prevalence is precisely why getting the space strategy right could reap real rewards. It could increase the U.K’s share of the global industry which is predicted to grow to £490billion by 2030 and accelerate the emergence of innovations that could transform how we live and how we interact with the world around us. Our pedigree in science and technology is unquestionable and the National Space Strategy aims to unite the capability under 5 goals to pursue a bold national vision. Those goals are to:
- Grow and level up our space economy
- Promote the values of Global Britain
- Lead pioneering scientific discovery and inspire the nation
- Protect and defend our national interests in and through space
- Use space to deliver for U.K. citizens and the world
As with any opportunity, there are risks. The Race to Space, formerly associated with the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War, now presents modern challenges. As more nations attempt to capitalise on the opportunities in space, including geopolitical rivals, it is likely we will experience attempts to deny or interrupt our use of these technologies. We must develop means of protecting our space interests and this is a key challenge for our Defence and Security industry, military and intelligence agencies. Adversaries will develop ways of putting our people, information and equipment at risk and we must respond.
It is clear that the Defence and Security industry has a key role to play and must respond to the 4th goal, driving forward innovation in telecommunications, cyber security and risk detections to protect and defend our interests in space and their impact on our day to day lives. The U.K.’s first Defence Space Portfolio is set to be delivered which will include some £5billion in investment over 10 years in improving the military’s satellite communications network and £1.4billion in developing new technologies. Investment will help the U.K. to protect against jamming, cyber-attacks, espionage and anti-satellite missiles; critical to maintaining our way of life.
The National Space Strategy is a clear pillar of the U.K’s ambition to be a science and technology superpower by 2030, as announced in the Integrated Defence Review “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”.
Richard Morgan, Head of Defence, Security and the Forces at Harrison Clark Rickerbys said “Since my youth, I have had a special interest in space that no doubt stems from watching Neil Armstrong’s tentative first steps on the Moon. Since then I have followed space exploits with fascination, and I have never ceased to be amazed by our generation’s greatest minds in addressing issues from global warming to communication using space technologies. This strategy will ensure investment and innovation that will benefit us all but in particular, help U.K. forces protect our way of life. As a lawyer, I have the great pleasure of advising entrepreneurs and innovators towards achieving some of the U.K’s most ambitious goals and look forward to meeting those driving forward the space strategy.”
Emma Humphrey, Defence Advisor at Harrison Clark Rickerbys commented “Space offers unlimited possibilities for the U.K. and our allies. It is imperative that industry seizes the opportunity to elevate the U.K. to the fore of future warfighting, not least through innovation to protect and connect our troops. We must also recognise that the same opportunities afford our adversaries a means of doing us harm and industry must equally rise to the challenge of protecting our space interests as we increasingly rely on infrastructure that extends not only beyond our borders, but outside of our stratosphere.”