The UK space industry is poised to make it one of the leading European countries for space innovations. With legislation in place, Great Britain’s space industry development could surprise the world.
UK Expansion of Commercial Space Activities 2021
Historically, Great Britain has always been a huge force in the world’s aerospace sector. Only the United States has a bigger global market share, while British activities are accounting for 17% of the world’s aerospace economy.
It’s estimated to be worth $45 billion in annual revenue, with the vast majority of the country’s aerospace output designated for the export market.
Until now, the UK space industry hasn’t seen comparable success, with British commercial space companies lagging far behind the scale of their US counterparts. However, this situation could well be changed in the next decade.
The UK government has pledged to help the UK space industry with its ambitions to account for 10% of the global space industry by 2030. So, how will this be achieved?
UK Space Industry Growth
In 2019, the value of the UK space industry stood at $18.7 billion annually. Industry leaders feel there is more to do before the UK fulfills its potential in becoming a rocket company superpower. The first thing the industry needs is more sustained funding from the UK government.
On average, space technology development requires six times more research and testing before a product can be fit for the marketplace than other industries. In the case of a rocket company trying to prepare for a launch, this figure will be much higher. However, the UK space industry already has a lead in the sector.
Satellites and the Future of Space Startups
Britain is one of the leading countries producing small- and nanosatellites designed to enable communication networks and provide geospatial monitoring services.
This is currently the most valuable area for commercial providers of space innovations, giving the UK a solid foundation for targeting a larger market share. Space applications make up the majority of the UK’s market contributions, followed by space operations and space manufacture.
The UK space industry may benefit from closer cooperation with the rocket company industry in the United States. In June 2020, the two countries signed a Technology Standards Agreement (TSA).
Industry experts believe that this will make it easier for a rocket company in the UK to import components and 3D printing technologies from America that they can use to help manufacture their own space innovations. A lateral approach to space startups and their supply chains can provide dividends for future UK space industry growth.
Small Rocket Company Space Innovations
It will be some time before the UK space industry can compete with the larger rocket company rivals, like those operating in the United States. In the meantime, the space startups rocket company model will provide a framework to produce space innovations that can secure a greater market share for the UK.
Smaller space startups can provide space solutions with more agility and versatility for USPs that can attract more clients internationally. In the United States, the biggest rocket companies can offer clients the best cost-to-weight ratio on their payload deliveries due to basic economies of scale.
However, there are drawbacks to this business model. Larger launches run to a schedule determined by the rocket company, and with payloads from dozens of customers in a single flight, clients have less say over the details of where and how their satellites are deployed.
Additionally, the scale of the larger launches leaves them more vulnerable to delays caused in manufacturing and supply chains.
Space startups that launch smaller rockets can’t beat the larger providers on cost, but supporters argue that they don’t have to. By being able to offer clients faster launches with the option to decide exactly where and at what height in Earth’s orbit their satellites are delivered, they present clients with a compelling USP.
If getting their satellites in the sky faster will offer clients an edge in the market, they’re likely to consider the extra cost a worthwhile expenditure.
Conclusion: A Space Race the UK Can Win
The European Space Agency investment activity seems to suggest it’s keeping its options open as to where the most progress in Europe will come from. It provided funding for space startups in the UK space industry as well as others in continental Europe. It would be no surprise for the UK to launch first.
Spaceports are planned for construction in Wales, Cornwall, and Scotland. This will give a UK rocket company the infrastructure it will need to launch small rockets. From a long-term perspective, it also improves the viability of any future space tourism industry to emerge in Britain.
Ultimately, the UK space industry seems poised to dominate Europe in the near future. Where do you think the next development in space technology will come from? Let us know in the comment section below.