The history of the UK space sector

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Scotland’s very first national space strategy aims to carve out a £4billion share of the global space industry. Pre-pandemic, the sector was valued at an estimated £270billion and pundits predict the market could nearly double in worth by 2030. Nicola Sturgeon’s government has now said expanding Scotland’s launch capabilities, green technologies and research and development will help bolster the economy.

The Scottish Space Strategy was announced on Wednesday at the Expo 2020 summit in Dubai.

The announcement came a month after Westminster revealed a UK-wide plan to strengthen and grow Brexit Britain’s £16billion space sector.

According to Scotland’s Business Minister Ivan McKee, the new initiative will bolster the economy with some 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

The Scottish Government aims to achieve this by partnering with private enterprises and industry groups like Space Scotland and the Scottish Space Academic Forum.

Mr McKee said: “The Scottish Space Strategy demonstrated the determination of our space community to work together to deliver this ambitious agenda.

“Our aims are clear – we want to achieve a £4billion share of the global space market, deliver a dedicated launch capability as early as next year and create 20,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

“We will broaden the diversity of the sector, increase its sustainability, exports and inward investment, and enhance education to inspire the next generation of space industry workers.

“The potential is enormous. Our targets are similarly far-reaching and I am confident we can achieve them.”

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The main agenda of the space strategy is to help Scotland emerge on the commercial space arena.

The strategy also envisions developing a number of launch sites across Scotland that will give Britain much-needed launch capabilities.

Projects like Spaceport Sutherland are already in the pipeline and will allow the UK to become the first nation to launch into orbit from European soil next year.

As part of the strategy, Scotland has also vowed to invest in green technologies.

Scotland is hosting the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) next month and Ms Sturgeon will be keen to highlight her green credentials.

The strategy will do so by investing in technologies that can help reduce greenhouse emissions and monitor the state of the climate from Earth.

Finally, the strategy will build upon and grow Scotland’s international ties to target and plug “critical gaps in capability”.

Craig Clark, Chair of Space Scotland, said: “This strategy represents a landmark in the development of the Scottish space sector and looks to build on the impressive growth and momentum the sector has demonstrated over the past decade.

“The strategy sets out a framework for growth, making Scotland an end-to-end space system provider for the rapidly expanding global market.

“We have a young, dynamic community of space companies and are ready to take the Scottish space sector to the next level.”

Professor Iain Woodhouse, Scottish Space Academic Forum Chair, added: “We are fully behind this exciting initiative.

“It will be the new talent and scientific innovation coming out of Scottish higher education institutions that forms the bedrock of the Scottish space sector and we are ready to step up and fulfil that role to ensure the strategy is a success.”

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