London, 16 November 2020: Athena, the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK, has today published a report with support from Bryce Space and Technology that showcases the opportunities available to the UK through growth in its space sector and how to seize the moment to do so. The report is available here.
Ahead of the Defence Space 2020 conference (17-18 November), of which Athena is a strategic partner, the team argues that now is the right time to propel the country towards an ambitious, achievable goal of becoming a respected space-faring nation, by galvanising the UK and its society, across both civilian and defence communities.
Athena – representing an end-to-end, sovereign and UK-based approach to space services – believes that the United Kingdom has reached a pivotal moment in its space aspirations. Currently it is trailing behind nations such as France and Japan, who are considered robust space powers due to the depth and sophistication of their space capabilities, which they put to good use in their pursuit of a clearly defined national strategy and the resulting widely-recognised economic, technical, societal and security benefits.
Chris Rocks, Capability Director Space and Security at Serco, said: “The UK is at a critical point and the time to step forward and become a leading space nation is now. The UK Government is taking steps towards achieving this aim with the formation of the National Space Council and its forthcoming National Space Strategy. Industry also needs to play its part and it is in this spirit of cooperation that Athena has published this report to set out a proposed roadmap to success with emphasis on key focus areas that can deliver the most benefit to the UK to make its space ambitions into reality.”
The report, called A New Approach to Space, recommends seven key areas of focus for the UK to 2030:
The report identifies a set of principles and enablers to achieve these goals, including effective regulation and licensing, public awareness-raising, and the development of a diverse supply chain. Activity should be driven by the development of a National Space Strategy, the report recommends.
Space and its associated capabilities are strategically vital to civil, commercial, security and defence policy ends. As a nation, the UK is wholly reliant on it for everyday activities such as satnav for commuting, through to precision timing for banking, global navigation services for shipping and earth observation services for weather forecasting. It has been estimated that the loss of global navigation satellite system services alone would cost the UK economy in excess of £1 billion per day.
Athena, launched in May 2020, was formed to seize development opportunities that new space technologies will offer, driving economic growth for the UK and diversification across the British space sector as Athena succeeds. The combined capabilities and technologies available to Athena will enhance further the country’s ability to deliver the UK’s ‘Prosperity and Security in Space’ strategy, which aims to increase the value of space to wider industrial activities to £500 billion, generate an extra £5 billion in UK exports and attract £3 billion of additional inward investment.
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The UK has significant potential for strong growth in the space sector, as it develops in importance worldwide to facilitate new technologies such as driverless transport, enhanced navigation, secure communications for defence and for industry via the Internet of Things (IoT) and, more broadly, as part of 5G and other hybrid networks.
Therefore, the report outlines that the space sector needs a long-term strategy to enable it to develop and to continue to deliver enhanced economic growth as well as this vital work. As part of the suggested roadmap for the sector, Athena has proposed seven key focus areas for the UK, summarised as follows:
Key focus areas for the UK 2020 to 2030:
Although the UK has made substantial progress in recent years in devising and driving forward national space ambitions, the report highlights that there are still significant challenges, as well as opportunities, to ensuring successful outcomes in the UK space sector over the next decade. Some of these opportunities require strategic and targeted investment, creating the right tax incentives, as well as making best use of cross-Government, space-related, budgets.
Athena believes that overcoming challenges faced by the UK space sector requires a coherent, integrated national strategy that aligns well with UK ambitions and leverages industrial and allied capabilities. UK industry needs new models and approaches to support the growth of its world-class space capability and economy. For example, the report recommends that industry friendly policies, balanced with national security and safety considerations, will cost little but can benefit the economy, military, and civil space programmes significantly.
The report sets out both imperatives and underpinning enablers to deliver on the ambitious way forward advocated by Athena for the UK space sector. Athena believes that UK imperatives should include:
Athena also highlights the essential underpinning enablers to deliver this strategy:
Athena is the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK. The four companies are world leaders in providing technology and services across defence, space, communications and information technology to governments, businesses and other organisations. Together as Athena they offer a new approach to space and innovation for the UK industry.
While continuing to operate as separate companies, Athena will see Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK – already major employers in the UK – develop shared capabilities to meet future demand for space-enabled solutions for business and government customers. This will also aim to boost the UK economy, in partnership with the UK Government’s growing focus on the space sector and its priorities around ‘levelling up’ economic benefits across the country. Unleashing untapped potential in the UK space sector through future export business will deliver further growth and job creation at the four companies’ sites across the country as well as enhanced skills in the UK workforce.
For more information on the Athena companies please see below.
Bryce Space and Technology is an analytic and engineering firm serving government and commercial clients. Bryce provides unique, integrated expertise on the space economy. Bryce’s expertise includes market analytics, technology readiness, cyber security, policy and economics, and strategy. Many authoritative data sets characterizing the space industry and sub-segments were originated by our analysts. We understand the interplay of national security, civil, and commercial space programmes, capabilities, and market