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UK Space Agency formally launched

The UK Space Agency has officially become an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with an annual budget of £240million.

The association will be responsible for devising and implementing British policy in orbit and will target areas that can deliver the greatest economic benefits, scientific excellence and national security.

Priority areas include developing scientific advancements in space technologies, gaining a better understanding of our planet through Earth observation spacecraft and nurturing the next generation of space scientists and researchers.

“The UK space industry is worth an estimated £7.5billion and is an important driver for economic growth,” said David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. “This is why we’ve earmarked £10million in the Budget to start a national space technology programme and committed to reducing the regulatory burden on industry.

“The establishment of the UK Space Agency will provide a focal point for this work and bring together our very best talent. This will help us concentrate efforts on advancements in space science and satellite technology and ultimately give us a better understanding of our own planet.”

UK Space Agency Chief Executive David Williams, added: “Today represents 12 months of hard work from agency staff and from colleagues at the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Technology Strategy Board, Natural Environment Research Council and other partners in industry and across Whitehall.

“Now established, we need to use the upcoming months to set the direction of travel for the UK space sector. That means concentrating on encouraging growth and engaging with industry, academia and other Government departments to make sure we’re developing in the right way.”

As part of the Budget and Growth Review, the Government also highlighted its commitment to reforming the Outer Space Act, which will introduce an upper limit on the third party liability of UK satellite operators. It will continue to work with the international regulatory authorities to enable space tourism operations in the UK and define regulations for novel space vehicles that could offer low cost access to space.

Author, Laura Hopperton
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