Written Evidence Submitted by Airbus


1. Summary

1.1 Airbus is by far the largest space company in the UK. It is the UK’s anchor space prime, which inherited and consolidated the national crown jewels in space from its predecessors, GEC-Marconi and British Aerospace, amongst others.

1.2 Airbus:

        1.3 Leads on and contributes to numerous European Space Agency (ESA) and commercial missions and programmes;

        1.4 Operates the Skynet 5 satellite constellation to provide all secure Beyond Line of Sight satellite communications for UK military operations world-wide;

        1.5 Manufactures Zephyr, a high-altitude platform station for persistent surveillance and communications, for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD);

        1.6 Provides high-definition imagery and video from space, delivering rapid information to the war fighter in support of military decision making;

        1.7 Is the first supplier in the world to provide secure laser services in space.

1.8 The National Space Strategy is a unique opportunity for the UK government to reset its relationship with industry, and to form a truly strategic partnership approach to ensure the growth of the space industry to allow it to globally compete in a competitive world.

1.9 At the heart of this is the UK government’s ambition to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to ten per cent by 2030. The new strategy should recognise the fact that the UK already holds 25 per cent of a very significant segment of the industry: telecommunications.

1.9 The UK has only developed an industrial base with a significant involvement in 25 per cent of the world’s telecommunications satellites through international collaboration, primarily through the European Space Agency, which is entirely independent from the European Union. This support for ESA should be sustained and expanded.

1.10 This support also extends to science, which offers excellent return on investment for the UK. ESA investment in the design and development of space science missions results in between £2.5 and £4 in returns for each £1 invested.

1.11 Airbus acts as a responsible prime, being the only manufacturer of large satellites in the UK. We provide a gateway to the world and to space for around 2,000 UK suppliers, including 750 SMEs.

1.12 Airbus wants to work with government to sustain, expand and develop the UK space industry. If the UK space sector is to expand to ten per cent of the global market by 2030, it will be by working in close partnership with Airbus. Airbus is by far the largest space company in the UK and employs around ten times as many space personnel as the second largest company, SSTL, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus. It is the second biggest space company in the world, and the largest in Europe. Airbus employs more people in the UK than all of the US aerospace and defence companies put together.

1.13 Defence has long had an almost entirely separate space agenda in the UK, for many good reasons. However, given the proliferation of space technology, and the growth of space threats such as anti-satellite weapons, civil and defence outcomes are intertwined. If the UK is to maximise its space power, it will need to coordinate between the civil and military space domains, to ensure the greatest possible return from investments in research and industrial capacity. We recommend that the government recognises that in some strategic sectors, like space, national partnerships are essential to deliver the desired industrial policy.

1.14 The aims of a new UK Space Strategy should be three-fold:

1.14.1. to sustain and enable the development of competitive high value UK space products and services addressing global commercial markets;

1.14.2. to ensure national technological capacity and capability exists as far as necessary to develop and sustain UK sovereign systems and CNI, and the data and applications that derive from them, to deliver policy and benefit citizens;

1.14.3. to achieve significant world class contributions to environmental monitoring (including climate change) and scientific discovery of the Earth and in all branches of space science, via effective international collaborations, primarily through UK’s membership of ESA.

1.15 It should provide targeted and strategic interventions in the following industry segments, with detail provided in this document:

1.15.1. Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT), to ensure the UK can provide unique, diversified and survivable PNT capabilities;

1.15.2. Earth Observation (EO), as the UK is the only permanent member of the UN Security Council not to have a sovereign EO capability, despite the UK having outstanding industrial capabilities in this area;

1.15.3. Climate change understanding, mitigation and adaptation, which is a globally significant expertise housed in the UK.

2. Prospects for the UK’s global position as a space nation, individually and through international partnerships

2.1 Airbus is a global company with incredibly interlinked European industrial supply chains supporting collaborative projects, part of which is our substantial UK industrial presence. Space requires a level of collaboration between industry and government, with strong government support both as an institutional customer and as a supporter of R&D.

2.2 International collaboration is enhanced with trusted allies, such as Five Eyes and NATO countries. The real benefit to the UK is sharing the cost of research and interoperability across systems delivering greater resilience to UK capability. Having large scale programmes international by design opens up long term roadmaps and sharing of international challenges.

2.3 The UK has only developed an industrial base with a significant involvement in 25 per cent of the world’s telecommunications satellites through international collaboration, primarily through the European Space Agency. Due to the scale of the global space industry and the addressable market, international collaboration is essential in taking a commercially viable industrial stake in projects.


2.4 The UK can benefit from exploiting existing relationships developed with international partners in other domains. For example, the relationship with Australia through which BAE Systems will manufacture Type 26 frigates on Australian soil could be leveraged in space, because the British frigates, along with all Royal Navy vessels, use Airbus-operated sovereign British satellite communications systems. This opens up a very positive opportunity to deepen our relationship with Australia on space. Airbus is offering a version of the UK’s Skynet system to fulfil Australia’s requirements for a sovereign military satellite communications system.

2.5 The UK Space Agency and the Australian Space Agency have signed a Space Bridge agreement. This is an important mechanism through which to encourage collaboration and the sharing of ideas, formalising the space relationship between the UK and Australia to lead to joint missions, sharing of capabilities and research collaboration. The agreement is a high level declaration of intent, opening the door to the development of the two countries’ space industries. The signing of more such agreements to develop international governmental and industrial ties would be a very positive development.

2.6 Having international partnerships with the Five Eyes community, in particular, gives the UK an opportunity for global leadership. US dominance in space is not good for choice or resilience.

3. Strengths and weaknesses of the current UK space sector and research and innovation base

3.1 The UK’s space ecosystem is fragile, but it works. It works as it has three primary components:

3.1.1. A steadfast institutional customer in the European Space Agency (ESA), which is supported by the UK government and funds important scientific and technology development missions;


3.1.2. A supportive government customer in the UK, which backs ESA and supports UK industry, including through the MOD;


3.1.3. An anchor UK space prime in Airbus, which inherited and consolidated the national crown jewels in space from its predecessors, GEC-Marconi and British Aerospace, amongst others.

3.2 Airbus believes that telecommunications should be at the heart of the National Space Strategy, balanced with new and emerging technologies. The government has an ambition to grow the UK’s space industry to ten per cent of the global market by 2030. The new strategy should recognise the fact that the UK already holds 25 per cent of a very significant segment of the industry: telecommunications.

3.3 The importance of having UK communications satellite assets should be clearly recognised as an important and essential capability which augments terrestrial networks and provides a separate and resilient service. With the rapid growth in telecommunication satellite constellations by non-UK actors it is essential that we build and extend our recent national support to establish high data capacity capability, including through laser inter satellite links. This could reap huge dividends and make a huge contribution to UK prosperity.

4. Lessons to be learned from previous space strategies

4.1 The UK found its early approach to space to be one of constructive but piecemeal gradualism. It is a global leader in many space technologies, including secure communications, but governance of space is divided between multiple government departments and many more executive agencies. It is now formulating a National Space Strategy to bring consistency to the UK government’s approach to space.


4.2 Defence has long had an almost entirely separate space agenda in the UK, for many good reasons. However, given the proliferation of space technology, and the growth of space threats such as anti-satellite weapons, civil and defence outcomes are intertwined. If the UK is to maximise its space power, it will need to coordinate between the civil and military space domains, to ensure the greatest possible return from investments in research and industrial capacity.


4.3 It is essential that there is a regular review across the UK space industry to benchmark our capabilities both internally to the UK and against our global competitors. This National Space Strategy review should direct both near- and longer-term policy with the intention of ensuring we retain and grow our technology base and industrial capability.

4.4 One key contributor to the UK’s success has been its long term membership of ESA. This has ensured the UK is able to punch well above its weight in space, and particularly in telecommunications. Previous space strategies have recognised this immense contribution. UK industry, including Airbus, regularly secures major contracts to provide mission spacecraft platforms, support, and subsystems.

4.5 A report by the UK Space Agency found that investment in the design and development of space science missions results in between £2.5 and £4 in returns for each £1 invested.

4.6 The research found that £523 million in funding from the UK Space Agency to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Science Programme (SSP) generated £1.4 billion of income for UK industry, with a further £1.1 billion received from partially attributed and forecast benefits.[1]

5. Research and Technology

5.1 Airbus is concerned about the erosion of high value design skills in the United Kingdom, and the risk that the UK becomes a ‘build-to-print nation’.

5.2 It is essential that the UK retains the ability to design and build the finest space systems in the world. Part of ensuring this remains true is ensuring work is given to those companies carrying out this high value design work in the UK and anchoring the intellectual property here in Great Britain. This means ensuring that all new work contributes to that ecosystem and supports sovereign capability.

5.3 Airbus in the UK spends around £340m annually on research, development and technology, and holds more than 37,000 patents.

5.4 The creation of long-term technology roadmaps combined with greater collaboration in low technology readiness level (TRL) R&T programmes would allow industry to focus its resources effectively. If the UK space industrial base receives long term contracts, it will encourage long term investment, particularly in R&D, which will benefit long term UK national requirements.

5.5 For example, Airbus has invested in anti-jamming technology to protect the Skynet 5 military satellite constellation which is recognised internationally as world leading. This investment was made in the UK because of the long-term partnership between the MOD and Airbus to deliver military satellite communications. A variant of the digital processor on Skynet 5 satellites, developed for that system, will now sit on the OneSat satellites, a new highly exportable Airbus satellite, which will be 50% designed and built in the UK. That initial MOD investment will lead to tremendous export-driven prosperity.

5.6 We are on the verge of an industrial revolution in space with rapidly increasing private sector commitment. National leadership and dominance within the market can only be maintained through tightly coupled government support for critical elements, including enabling and disruptive technologies. While the US is still a leader in space technology, many nations, including China, the EU27 and newer entrants such as the UAE and Australia, are moving at speed. The UK will have to keep up and step up its technology development in order to attain its target 10 per cent share of the global space market.

5.7 The actions taken to pursue the aims of the National Space Strategy must be coordinated to the maximum extent possible as a key part of the technology strategy. For example, advanced on-board data processing and communications technologies cut across all three aims. Through the National Space Council, and the creation of Space Command and Space Directorate, the UK is bringing civil and military policies together across government.

5.8 Space has many dual use technologies. The UK government should link civil and defence space wherever possible for efficient development and leveraging of dual technologies to create both commercial and national security benefits.

5.9 The focus of UK space technology strategy should be to invest in areas of technological strength or weakness tensioned against future opportunities. The opportunities can be defined by assessing medium and long-term evolutions in space systems needs, markets and emerging technologies. Areas of technology strength and weakness can be defined by assessment of RTO resources and citations (not only science, but also technology), patent analysis and by assessment of UK developers and suppliers of technologies for space systems (in-space and on ground) and space derived services. 

5.10 Decisions on focus areas should also be balanced against technology strengths and accessibility (e.g. export limitation) in other countries – a consistent medium to long term strategic plan should be made regarding technologies on which to compete or partner. Long term positions are key to success as truly disruptive technology maturation takes decades rather than years.

5.11 Airbus proposes the creation of a Space Research Advisory Board, reporting to the National Space Council, which will focus on bringing together the parties and organisations that are currently working on space research in isolation e.g. DSTL, UKSA, RAL Space, Innovate UK for knowledge sharing. The advisory board should define the most advantageous national requirements needed to elevate the UK’s standing. The board should also be the focal point for both domestic and external customers (from overseas) and, finally, the board should create the relevant processes and efficiencies to save HMG both time and resource, such as national roadmaps which could be linked to the Space Growth Partnership to encompass industry, academia and government.

5.12 Competitions for space technology funding will often be non-directive in line with long-established UK policy that ‘industry should decide’. Even so it is immensely valuable for the UK government to emphasise within its technology strategy topics of high interest as this sustains and creates clusters of excellence, focuses skills development and stimulates inward investment.

5.13 The UK should enable businesses to invest more in R&D through continuing the development of academic and industry collaboration, R&D tax incentives, co-funding and having strong safeguards for intellectual property.

5.14 Predictable funding competitions, multi-annual funding and 100% intervention rates for low TRL in all industries are essential. Some government R&D competition rules force commit and spend in the same fiscal year and are also announced with short notice due to flow-down of annual settlements. These constraints are incompatible with the R&D planning and execution cycles of many organisations.

5.15 European countries fund low TRL R&D in industry with 100% grants, whereas UK state aid rules are interpreted strictly with lower intervention rates and result in other countries gaining early mover advantage in new technologies. The UK must take the fullest possible advantage of the post-EU environment for state aid.

5.16 Airbus welcomes the aim of the Subsidy Control Bill 2021 in relation to increased R&D investment. The UK should use this opportunity to increase funding to low TRL research and allow industry early mover advantage, as is the case in many European countries.

6. Defence space

6.1 The National Space Strategy will need a robust defence element, which the MOD is leading on.

6.2 The space domain would greatly benefit from a long term defence industrial strategy focused on strengthening the UK’s sovereign space industrial base. Such a policy would need to recognise that the space domain is incredibly specialised and it is not always viable to have full and rich competition in its most traditional sense, the likes of which the MOD has long been wedded to.

6.3 One approach could be developing ‘National Space Champions’ which are targeted to work together to drive both partnership and competition. This could provide a strong foundation for the UK’s defence industrial strategy in space. This has been successful in complex weapons, so the model could be considered for other strategic sectors such as space.

6.4 We recommend that the government recognises that in some strategic sectors, like space, national partnerships are essential to deliver the desired industrial policy. National champions work well when there is a true collaborative relationship that develops the wider ecosystem and works with government to grow the sector, competition and future partnerships as a whole. Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), which is wholly owned by Airbus, has acted as the national champion to the Ministry of Defence, working with the RAF to develop, procure and launch Carbonite-2, a small satellite demonstrator that provides high-definition imagery and video from space, a process which took only twelve months from concept to launch.

6.5 For the space sector to thrive, the government will need to commit to long term investment in space. This means supporting space exports and having a long-term roadmap to procure next generation satellites and space based capabilities and ensuring that the UK is procuring the same systems it is promoting overseas as exports.

6.6 The formation of a defence element of the National Space Strategy is very positive and sits at the core of this evolution, allowing for industry to engage more strategically with the Ministry of Defence and allowing discussions around national space architectures, capabilities and national champions to naturally evolve.

7. Defence space skills

7.1 The military space sector requires a broad spectrum of engineering skills, and particularly physicists. Unfortunately, the demand for these skills is high and supply is low.

7.2 Government and industry are all competing for the same people so it is important that investment is made now in delivering strong space focused graduate and apprentice programmes that will ensure there are sufficient space skills for the future.

7.3 One way to do this would be to establish national guidelines for space to enable a structured training and career path for the military space sector. This would enable government and industry to share the cost and burden of training live space operators, securing a future talent pool for all to benefit from.

7.4 Long term acquisition life cycles also lead to ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ in skills requirements which poses a challenge for industry to ensure critical skills are maintained for the long-term benefit of UK defence. In the military space domain, service contracts to deliver military capability thorough space systems provide essential continuity and the means to sustain sovereign space skills. A greater focus on service provision is one tool which can be used to address skills challenges and reduce the risk of capability erosion.

Industry segments

8. Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing

8.1 Space-based Positioning Navigation & Timing (PNT) has a key role in delivering reliable and accurate PNT to users now and in the future.  The implementation of the recent SBPP programme is an important step towards addressing the provision of a UK capability, however, it appears that some of the benefits and opportunities of the UK deploying an independent and assured space based PNT system are not fully recognised.

8.2 PNT resilience and assurance are key drivers for pursuing an independent UK space based PNT system, and the UK Space Agency Future Concepts Study and UK GNSS programmes proved that the UK has the capability to deliver this. There are, however, substantial benefits beyond resilience, if systems are designed to address emerging applications that are not well served by current space based PNT systems, such as economic growth, smart living, net zero emissions, and public safety. These opportunities can be a major contributor to the business case for building an independent UK space capability system.

8.3 The National Space Strategy should provide a broad set of objectives for an independent space based PNT system in terms of the benefits that it would deliver for the UK.  The lack of these requirements has been and remains the key issue behind the lack of progress in the definition of a UK space based PNT capability.  Progress can be made only if the UK defines its requirements and allows industry to identify solutions.

8.4 It is, however, clear that space-based PNT will not, on its own, satisfy the full PNT requirement. The UK National PNT Strategy, when adopted, will identify a key role for space based PNT, but necessarily as part of a ‘system of systems’ requiring other PNT sources to deliver the full capability required for many applications. These other sources may be space-based or terrestrial, global, or regional, UK owned or not, but will need to be integrated to provide the necessary performance (accuracy), together with resilience, robustness and ubiquitous availability to meet user requirements. The National Space Strategy should recognise that a sovereign space based PNT capability, under UK control, is an essential part of this capability for UK critical applications.

8.5 The need for PNT data to support current and future key programmes, such as autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, rail, smart cities, is well known. The National Space Strategy should recognise and foster these links, particularly given the overarching requirement to meet ambitious national carbon emissions targets. Meeting them will be difficult, if not impossible, without the enabling technologies such as PNT.

8.6 In PNT, the market for equipment, services and applications is an order of magnitude bigger than the up-stream market for the build and delivery of PNT infrastructure. Currently, navigation applications represent over 50 per cent of the space economy. A National Space Strategy should recognise the opportunity for these exploitation opportunities arising from the development of an independent UK space based PNT system to grow the UK presence in this global market.

8.7 The post-Brexit loss of Galileo work and the intermittent nature of the UK government PNT activities has resulted in a significant decline in the UK PNT skills base. This decline must be halted as soon as possible through the rapid publication of requirements and the awarding of contracts. Additionally, many of the skills required for the PNT sector are shared with the broader space sector, and with adjacent sectors (e.g., communications, IT, aerospace, cyber, transport) and the National Space Strategy should recognise and plan for a more holistic approach to developing the skills required in the UK sectors as a whole, while ensuring that the space and PNT sectors remain competitive to attract the talent that they require.

9. Earth Observation (EO)

9.1 Over the last ten years, EO satellites have generated $63.8 billion in revenues for the satellite manufacturing community, and governments have remained the primary investors in EO satellites, accounting for 68% of satellites launched and 90% of the spending on satellite manufacturing. There has been sustained growth in this sector for over 13 years, through ESA, Eumetsat, and the European Union, as well as through UK investment in the field, including ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat. The technology, observations and science developed through these missions since the early 1990s has provided a long-term underpinning of UK capability, and has steered operational meteorological satellites, and much of the Copernicus programme we are developing today.

9.2 Airbus Intelligence UK is already providing world-leading EO services, including as the operator of Vision-1, the UK’s first sovereign <1m resolution optical imaging satellite. It acquires imagery for the MOD as part of the ARTEMIS programme.

9.3 Airbus Intelligence is also involved in the operation of the SSTL-built NovaSAR mission, and has operated the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) since 2004. Data from the DMC and Vision-1 is fed into programmes such as the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters on behalf of the UKSA. Airbus is already fundamental to the growth of the operational use of all UK EO capability to support UK government users.

9.4 However, the UK government has a very limited capability to provide global EO services. The lack of a national EO programme is a missed opportunity for the UK and reduces our global standing; we are the only permanent member of the UN Security Council not to have a national EO constellation. The MOD is entirely reliant on the US and commercial providers to provide data. Consequently, there is no freedom of action, as the UK is ‘at the back of the queue’ when requesting data from other countries, nor could the UK sustain a truly ‘UK Eyes Only’ mission, using data from space.

9.5 Reversing this would mean the delivery of a secure end-to-end system to meet cross-government requirements and would provide an opportunity to grow the service delivery element into a world leading capability. To deliver this, the need for the government to take the lead is clear; across the globe, the starting point for delivering EO is government investment to support programme development. In 2019, global investment from governments in EO programmes totalled $11.6 billion, of which the UK Government invested $112 million.[2]

9.6 A national EO mission is required. Designed, developed and manufactured in the UK, this programme would benefit from the UK government acting as the anchor tenant, which would allow for the development of services. The constellation should set the benchmark for future novel sensors and satellites with an ability to access a market for EO services of around $8.2 billion by 2030.

9.7 Effective processing, management and dissemination of EO data, and integration into government geospatial intelligence workflows, is essential to securing the uptake of EO data within operations and reaping the benefits of such world-leading capability. Simply having sovereign satellites is not sufficient. The data must be used effectively to support real operational challenges which can make a big difference.

10. Climate change monitoring and mitigation

10.1 Without space-based technology, humankind simply would not know about the existence and scale of man-made climate change. The UK is the home of world-leading space climate science research, at institutions such as the National Physical Laboratory, the National Centre for Earth Observation, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space, University of Leicester, University of Surrey, and University College London.

10.2 Together, we have developed a global centre of excellence, illustrating UK leadership in Earth science, meteorology and climate through satellites such as Cryosat, Aeolus, Biomass, EarthCARE and key instruments on MetOp and MetOp-SG.

10.3 Airbus is at the heart of the industrial element of the UK’s contribution. In the year of COP 26, the UK can rightly be proud of its contribution to human understanding of climate change, and the UK government can seize the initiative to fully fund ongoing national missions to further develop its contribution.

10.4 A future major UK contribution to climate related EO will be the TRUTHS mission. The UK takes a significant leadership role in TRUTHS, which builds on the strong existing climate science expertise. Additional expertise is provided by the space industry, led by Airbus, and academia from Greece, Switzerland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

10.5 The TRUTHS satellite mission will collect measurements of the Sun’s radiation and of the sunlight reflected off Earth's surface traced to an absolute metrological reference, which will then be used to improve the climatological data sets and calibrate the observations of other satellites. This space-based climate and calibration observing system will enable data from other satellites to be compared more easily providing greater standards of data harmonisation for even more accurate climate change forecasts.

10.6 TRUTHS will also be a “standards laboratory in space” as it will provide gold standard of calibration for space-based Earth Observation, and will, for the first time, allow the international scientific community to cross-reference their measurement and data enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis.

10.7 Aeolus-2 is another major climate mission being led by ESA. The measurements determined by Aeolus will add new data to Met Office and European weather forecasts, ensuring unprecedented levels of accuracy.

10.8 Aeolus-2, which is the full operational mission following the initial Aeolus proof of concept demonstrator, requires funding. The programme is due for subscription at the end of 2022, so the UK must ensure there is no delay to its subscription, and ensure that it is able to indicate ahead of time that it will likely do so. The data provided by Aeolus-2 will be invaluable in adding to human understanding of our climate.

10.9 The UK is also leading on the construction of the ESA Biomass satellite, which is underway in Stevenage. Biomass is due to launch in 2023 and will measure forest density to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes for five years. The spacecraft will carry the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass that are not obtainable by ground measurement techniques.

11. Future technologies

11.1 Small launchers

11.1.1. Once the first launches from UK spaceports are achieved, it will be necessary to monitor international capabilities and position UK commercial offers appropriately to compete.

11.1.2. There may be a role for the UK to commit to anchor tenancy launches when payloads are of an appropriate size; however, there should not be a limitation on use of non-UK or larger launchers when needed.

11.2 Debris Removal

11.2.1. Space debris is a huge problem, and the UK is a world leader in setting norms in space and in developing technology to tackle space debris.

11.2.2. Nations are generally responsible for what their companies put into space. There are many large legacy items in space for which the UK has full or partial responsibility, but it is less clear that there is a viable business case for the removal of small items or constellations.

11.2.3. Self-removal or other mitigation measures will be the default.  Funding is needed for ambitious UK-led removal missions that can be offered to other countries and that accelerates the development of wealth-creating services in an in-orbit circular economy.

11.2.4. The UK should take the lead in driving international efforts in this area, including with the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It should also seek to coordinate activities across both ESA, NASA and other space bodies. To help mitigate these risks, there is a need for national space situational awareness capability which will require dedicated sensors to track satellites and an operations centre to coordinate this tasking. It would also act as a central depository of data that can then be analysed in real time by dedicated operatives.

11.2.5. The Government should also consider the development and deployment of a Space Traffic Management (STM) system. The STM system should seek to support safer operations in space and measures to avoid unnecessary pollution of the space environment with new debris. This includes improving the cataloguing and custody of objects in space to include smaller objects for better collision avoidance.

Credit: ESA – The current state of space debris

(Red = Payloads, Orange = Rocket Bodies, Dark Green = other objects)


11.3 Space Based Solar Power

11.3.1. This exciting but unproven technology could make a huge contribution to the achievement of Net Zero by 2050 or before and could be strategically significant for UK policy and industry.

11.3.2. At this early stage, funding for detailed feasibility and implementation studies are needed to pin down risks and rewards. This kind of innovative and forward-looking technology is where the UK excels.


12. Annex

Some areas of UK strength to be sustained include:

        Satellite manufacture of all sizes

        Geostationary telecommunications satellites

        Mechanical structures and additive manufacturing

        Technologies for low-cost high-quality sensing – optical and radar

        Deployable antennas

        Artificial intelligence and big data

        Digital twins, digital design and advanced manufacturing

        Satellite payload data ground segment operations

        Optical and radar satellite EO imaging and geospatial data analysis

Emerging areas to be encouraged (in no priority order)

        In-orbit manufacturing

        Photonic integrated circuits

        Advanced antennas: phased array RF and optical in space and ground

        Next generation in-space propulsion (hybrid/green)

        Factory 4.0 automation for satellite production

        Free space optical communications including inter-satellite links

        Quantum Communications Infrastructure /Quantum Key Distribution

        Hyperspectral optical imaging

        Hyperspectral microwave imaging

        Space weather sensors and platforms

        In-space robotic assembly to enable an in-orbit economy

        In-space autonomy using intelligent systems and sensors

        GaN on Diamond high power RF technology

        Dynamically reconfigurable meshed communications networks (5/6G integrated)

        EO data refresh and analytics for decision making, in alignment with the UK Geospatial Strategy and cross government requirements



(July 2021)

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/space-science-investment-generates-income-and-creates-jobs

[2] This compares to $264 million (Fr), $178 million (GE), $2.1 billion (US) and the $112 million breaks down to $21 million on national programmes and the rest to ESA