UK Space Agency Upgraded

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The UK Space Agency becomes an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills .

This will see the Agency taking over responsibility for the majority of the UK’s commitment to space exploration and science. Efforts will be targeted at areas that have the greatest potential for delivering 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 our next generation of space scientists and researchers.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“The UK space industry is worth an estimated £7.5 billion and is an important driver for economic growth. This is why we’ve earmarked £10 million 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.”
[ad#Google Adsense] UK Space Agency Chief Executive David Williams said:

“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, Government has:

Earmarked £10m to start a national space technology programme with industry aimed at promoting economic growth and self sustainability, which will be channelled through the UK Space Agency.
Committed to reforming the Outer Space Act – this will introduce an upper limit on the third party liability of UK satellite operators, making the industry more internationally competitive.
Committed to working with the international regulatory authorities to enable space tourism operations in the UK and define regulations for novel space vehicles that offer low cost access to space.
The UK Space Agency will continue to build links between industry and the research community. It will work with other UK organisations such as the Technology Strategy Board, the Research Councils, the International Space Innovation Centre and the Met Office, and overseas agencies including the European Space Agency and NASA.

The principal driver of the UK Space Agency is economic growth through both export and innovation, and through supporting science as an enabler for growth. These themes are being highlighted as part of the organisation’s strategy for 2011-2015, which is published for consultation today.

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