How the UK Space Agency makes a difference
The existence of the UK Space Agency provides the structure for a holistic approach to be taken with regard to space - with growth at the centre of the Agency's strategy.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Structural Reform Plan published in July 2010 commits BIS to establish the UK Space Agency as a full executive agency of BIS from 1 April 2011. This follows the UK Space Agency launch on 1 April 2010, which itself resulted from a decision by the previous government following both a public consultation and a space innovation growth team report in 2009/10.
The UK Space Agency replaced the British National Space Centre (BNSC) which was an umbrella organisation of 10 Government departments, research councils and non-departmental public bodies.
The agency works to ensure the UK has a competence in space technology.
This improves upon the previous structure whereby the British National Space Centre (BNSC) worked within a structure which was based on a partnership across government. In establishing the agency, consideration was paid to the sort of structure which would ensure and encourage continued growth, and equally importantly ensure that the UK retains a core competence on space applications, technologies and systems in both industry and academia.
The previous multi-partner approach meant that BNSC could not take active responsibility for the overall delivery of the government’s civil space strategy, and the ‘bottom up’ approach could have resulted in the UK losing its "critical mass" competence in space. Also, the structure had each partner programme budget operating on different timescales militating against having a unified long term programmatic and financial outlook.
The agency also works to maximise UK benefits from space activities and to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of global scientific excellence as well as in the exploitation of space infrastructure, products and services. The agency encourages interaction between industry and academia.
For more than a decade the UK space industry has shown consistently high growth levels, and this has been maintained even during the recession. Preliminary results from the ongoing biennial Study of the UK Space Industry indicates an avergae growth rate of 7.5%.
The UK's thriving space sector contributes £9.1bn a year to the UK economy, directly employs 28,900 and supports a further 60,000 jobs across a variety of industries.