Press Release

Lord Sainsbury launches Three-Year Strategy for UK Space: Space for Science, enterprise and environment

By SpaceRef Editor
January 22, 2003
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Science Minister Lord Sainsbury today unveiled the Government’s plans for the UK space industry for the next three years.

Lord Sainsbury said:

“The draft strategy is focused much more than before on the use of space systems throughout the economy. This will require the space community to work even more closely with commercial companies. Increasingly, space is opening up new commercial opportunities in areas such as telecommunications and global positioning systems and a key objective of the draft strategy is to provide a framework which will enable UK companies to take advantage of these opportunities.”

The Government has set three key objectives for the Space industry. They are:

  • Enhancing the UK’s standing in astronomy, planetary and earth sciences;
  • Stimulating increased productivity by promoting the use of space in government, science and commerce; and,
  • Developing innovative space systems, to deliver sustainable improvement in quality of life.

The strategy sets out how we plan to deliver these through world-beating services and technologies and achieve greater use and market acceptance of all types of space services in the UK.

The UK will continue its policy of investing selectively in space and of focussing on achieving its objectives cost-effectively, and through international partnerships. The strategy is primarily focussed on the years 2003-06, but for the first time it also sets out the necessary long-term perspective to 2015.

The UK space industry is innovative, competitive and export-orientated. A study last year into the size and health of the industry showed that turnover had increased by 17 per cent to £2.9 billion with employment up 14 per cent. The UK has world-class expertise in many areas including telecommunications, small satellites, earth observation and radar technologies.

Worldwide, the market for Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology is forecast to grow by 85 per cent from 2001 to 2007. This will have a major impact on our every day lives as the technology is increasingly used in areas such as in-car navigation, aviation safety and location-based personal navigation services.

The publication of the strategy also comes at a time when the UK is becoming increasingly involved in space exploration missions. This May sees the launch of the British-built Beagle 2 Mission to Mars. In addition, the UK is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) to send a satellite to the Moon to study the entire surface. There are also planetary missions to Venus and Saturn’s moon Titan.

The draft strategy published today on the BNSC website begins a three-month consultation including a public meeting on March 11. The UK space community, users and potential users of space services are invited to submit their comments on any aspect of the draft. After a three-month consultation period all comments will be analysed and will feed into the final document, which is due to be published later this year.



1. On 24 July 2002 at Farnborough International Airshow Lord Sainsbury set the BNSC partners and their advisory bodies the task of producing the draft UK Space Strategy to deliver three key objectives to maintain and enhance the UK as: an internationally recognised centre for world-class space and environmental sciences; a leading user of space services, stimulating increased productivity in government, science and commerce; a foremost developer of leading edge space-based systems delivering sustainable improvements in quality of life.

2. Following this work, the draft UK Space Strategy has been published today and is open to a three-month consultation period that will include a public meeting on March 11. The document is available on the BNSC website and comments, preferably no more than four pages in length, should be sent to one of the following addresses no later than 30 April 2003: by email to, by post to Strategy Consultation, British National Space Centre, Bay 175, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SS, or by fax to Strategy Consultation 020 7215 0936. The final strategy will be published later this year and will cover 2003-6 and beyond. Those interested in attending the public meeting should also apply to one of the above addresses.

3. BNSC is a partnership of Government Departments and Research Councils with an interest in the development or exploitation of space technologies. The British National Space Centre (BNSC) is the UK Government body responsible for UK civil space policy, to help gain the best possible scientific, economic and social benefits from putting space to work.

Press Enquiries: 020 7215 0806/0905

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SpaceRef staff editor.