WRITTEN EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY UK SPACE
I am writing to you as the Chair of UKspace. UKspace is the industry-led official trade association for the UK’s space industry representing companies of all sizes across the breadth of the space value chain including satellite manufacturers, spaceports and launch operators and the companies that download and utilise satellite data to provide day-to-day services.
Members of UKspace – including many of the companies that were directly impacted by the failed launch in January, are keen to provide a broad industry perspective to support your inquiry into the UK space strategy and UK satellite infrastructure – and in particular to supplement your recent oral evidence session looking into the failed UK satellite launch and future launch prospects.
We were clearly disappointed by the recent Virgin Orbit failure and the subsequent impacts on Virgin Orbit itself but are concerned that the reaction and press coverage stimulated by your inquiry was inaccurate and damaging to the sector at large, particularly as the ‘industry’ evidence was provided by only one company - and that company has no prior launch experience. Additionally, come media reported the bankruptcy of Virgin Orbit as if it correlated with the status of UK launch, whereas UK spaceports are in good standing, and UK-based launch companies are still working full- tilt towards the first vertical launches from the UK. We feel that the evidence provided was not fully representative of the wider industry experience of this first UK launch.
There are some key points that we would like to stress, to help bring context and proportionality to the discussions and investigation:
We remain committed to seeing the UK Launch programme achieve its objectives of commercial sustainability, opening up new opportunities for the UK and its space sector. We will continue working with all the stakeholders in government and industry to ensure that the value proposition of launch from the UK remains strong and is achievable and deliverable.
We hope this input is helpful to the Committee’s deliberations – and would be pleased to provide more detailed evidence if that would be of value to the Committee.