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Andrew Kuh, the Head of International Spaceflight Policy and Arfan Chaudhry, Head of International Policy, told Express.co.uk the UK Space Agency is now entering an exciting phase in its future. The last satellite to launch from the UK was in 1971 but following the announcement of the three new space centres across the UK, the agency now believes it can become a global leader in the field. Despite political and economic uncertainty surrounding the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, both Mr Chaudhry and Mr Kuh claimed the industry was ready to take up a vital role in restarting the UK economy.
“We are in pole position in Europe to be the first country delivering launches in Europe itself in the next few years.
“So I think that’s a really exciting prospect.
“For the space sector within the UK, it’s incredibly exciting and there are a whole load of new avenues for us.
“But I think for the UK more broadly, it’s going to create benefits in terms of jobs, innovation, educational programs that we attach to this.”
The UK Space Agency made two landmark announcements this month: an international agreement with NASA and a third spaceport on the Shetland Islands.
What both these agreements mean for UK space is the potential to become one step closer to launching satellites.
The UK is one of the global leaders in making satellite parts but not in launching them.
Shetland’s spaceport will work in tandem with a separate Space Hub in Sutherland.
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There is also a third Spaceport in Cornwall with the agency believing all three will not only boost the UK’s space launch capability but also provide vital jobs for the local economies.
The NASA agreement now states the UK will be in partnership with the agency on its Artemis programme.
This will work towards landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.
The agency has come under fire this year following the scrapping of the UK alternative to the EU’s satellite navigation system, Galileo.
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Under Theresa May, the UK had pledged to create the British Global Navigation Satellite System but scrapped the project last month due it costing between £3-5billion.
This was after the UK pulled out of the Galileo project due to Brexit after contributing £1.2billion.
With these costs and the financial ruin coronavirus has caused, both officials at the agency stated the space sector is an essential sector for funding.
Mr Chaudry added: “I believe that space has an important if not fundamental part play in the success for the development of the UK beyond the first of January 2021.
“Space is all-encompassing, it covers a whole range of issues, not just security, but also from the science and from a trade and prosperity perspective.”
Mr Kuh concluded: “I think the key thing is, when people quite rightly ask why we invest money in space.
“And whether we can afford that, I would say, I don’t think we can afford not too if we want to have a modern, innovative economy with high skilled jobs.
“We’ve seen throughout wildly challenging last six months or so that space companies are innovative companies, and they adapted and, and once they have been affected, and not been as effective as some other parts of the economy.
“The sector can drive economic growth, not just within the space sector, but within the wider economy. And that’s across all regions in the UK.”
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