Britain gets its own space agency at last

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The UK is to get its own space agency, consolidating a mess of different departments and budgets into a single authority.

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) will gradually assume control of all space budgets - around £230 million per year - starting in those areas related to membership of the European Space Agency (ESA). It will then take over responsibility for Britain's other interests in EU space projects.

The UKSA will represent Britain internationally on all space matters. A Space Leadership Council will be created, and a national space strategy formulated. The government says it will also work with industry to examine how space-enabled services can help deliver next-generation broadband. 

"The action we’re taking today shows that we’re really serious about space. The UK Space Agency will give the sector the muscle it needs to fulfil its ambition," said science and innovation minister Lord Drayson.

"Britain’s space industry has defied the recession. It can grow to £40bn a year and create 100,000 jobs in 20 years. The Government’s commitments on space will help the sector go from strength to strength."

The government has also announced a new £40 million International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell in Oxfordshire. This will utilise data from Earth Observation Satellites, use space data to counter climate change, and advise on the security and resilience of space systems and services.

The UKSA will launch formally on April 1.