UK Government Lays Out Future Cooperation with EU in Space After Brexit

The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s facility in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. (Credit: Harwell Campus)

With the United Kingdom (UK) now negotiating its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), the government has published a plan for how the two governments can continue to work together across a broad range of areas after Brexit.

While the UK can remain a full member of the European Space Agency without being a member of the EU, a number of disruptions could occur across the space and aerospace sector. Continued British participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system and the Copernicus Earth observation program are  key areas of concern.

Below are excerpts from the report covering possible cooperation in space and in the harmonization of standards in aerospace manufacturing. (Emphasis mine)

The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
July 2018

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

2.4.6 Space

91. The UK and the EU are both reliant on access to space technologies for national resilience and military capabilities, and to reduce vulnerability to threats such as hacking and severe space weather.


New Program to Pour £40 Million into Improving UK Aerospace Sector

Via Midlands Aerospace Alliance

Speaking at the 2013 Paris Air Show, UK Business Minister Michael Fallon officially launched the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP).

Based on the MAA’s 2006-2012 ATEP and an integral part of the UK Aerospace Growth Partnership’s industrial strategy, the £40m [$59.8 million] NATEP will fund 100 new technology projects in the supply chain between 2013 and 2017.


UK Space Agency Unveils Four-Year Development Plan

FARNSBOROUGH, England (UKSA PR) — The ‘Civil Space Strategy’ setting out the direction for the UK space sector over the next four years was published Tuesday 10th July at the Farnborough International Airshow. The Strategy sets out the UK Space Agency’s framework supporting the growth of the sector over the next four years.

The Civil Space Stratey [sic] was formally unveiled to the international space community gathered for Space Day at Farnborough. The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts discussed the Strategy in his speech to the Space Conference as well as revealing the latest results of the Size and Health of the UK Space Sector.


New UK Science Minister Makes Space a Priority

With the launch of a new UK government comes a change at the top for the UK space effort. Science Minister Lord Drayson, who drove the creation of the UK Space Agency, is gone. He has been replaced by David Willetts, who has promised to pick up where his predecessor left off.

Good luck with that….


The Space Review: UK’s Space Agency, Mars and “Selling Peace”

marsholeraspIn the Space Review this week….

Dwayne Day describes how some advocates have pinned their hopes for humanity’s future in space on specific technologies or ideologies.

Taylor Dinerman looks at the UK’s plans for a space agency.

Frank Stratford argues that exploring Mars is all about preserving, and challenging, humanity.

Jeff Foust reviews Jeffrey Manber’s new book, “Selling Peace,” about the opening of the Russian space program.

A photo gallery of SpaceShipTwo’s rollout in Mojave.

ESA Launch New UK Space Research Center


Leading industrialists and academics from across the world have witnessed the launch of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s first ever UK base at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus (HSIC). As part of a two day event (22nd and 23rd July), ESA saw for themselves the world-leading research and technology facilities already at the campus and at its sister Science and Innovation Campus in Daresbury.

Lord Drayson, the UK’s Minister for Science and Innovation, attended the launch event in London on 22nd July where representatives from industry, academia and other government departments heard how the ESA facility will focus upon three key areas: combining data and images from space to create new applications for everyday life; climate change modelling; and the development of novel power sources and innovative robotic technologies to explore space.


Generation Nerd: ESA Seeks New Astronauts

A couple of brief updates on ESA’s search for its next generation of astronauts….

European Space Agency searching for Astronerds rather than Astronauts
Times of London

When European space chiefs begin sifting thousands of applications in a search for four new astronauts, they will not be interested in the kind of daredevil who pioneered space exploration. Instead they will be looking for scientists and engineers who display “team competence, empathy and emotional stability”. The European Space Agency wants astronerds rather than astronauts.

“We are not interested in the Right Stuff; we want the right staff,” a spokesman said.

Woman hopes to be Britain’s first astronaut
The Telegraph

There are currently eight ESA astronauts, all of whom are men from France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden, but many are now retiring and need to be replaced. Dr. Tracey Dickens, 29, an astrophysicist at Leicester University, is one of the British women who is applying to replace them.

She said: “Since I was 12 years old, I have wanted to be the next British born astronaut. I could never understand why there have never been any more British females and I have always felt that if all those men can do it, then why can’t I?”

Astronaut Urges Britain to Join Human Spaceflight Effort

British-born astronaut Piers Sellers is urging UK policymakers to get the nation involved in human spaceflight. Sellers, a veteran of two shuttle missions, said the rewards are well worth the expense.

“The UK needs a new generation of scientists and engineers if it is to be viable in the future world economy. I and many of my scientist and engineer colleagues were inspired to get into science and engineering in the first place because of space. And it is obvious that the appeal of space exploration to the public in general and to the young in particular is as strong as ever,” he writes in The Guardian.

Is Britain Falling Behind in New Space Race?

With Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) set to carry supplies to the International Space Station this weekend, Ian Sample questions whether the Great Britain is being left behind during this next phase of space exploration. Britain made no significant contribution to the ATV, which eventually could be upgraded to fly humans in space. Sampled is worried that Britain will be an insignificant player as the world’s space programs begin sending humans to the Moon and beyond.

UK Students to Participate in Richard Garriott’s ISS Flight

March 4, 2008

UK students will have a chance to get involved in two out-of-this-world space science experiments when British-born space entrepreneur Richard Garriott arrives at the International Space Station (ISS) this Autumn.

Developed in partnership with the British National Space Centre (BNSC), which co-ordinates civil space activities in the UK, and US company Space Adventures, which provides spaceflight opportunities for private citizens, the educational outreach programme will include challenges for both primary and secondary school students across the UK:

Primary schools students will be invited to design an experiment to be carried out by Mr. Garriott on the International Space Station and reviewed by retired astronaut Dr. Owen Garriott and by leading UK scientists including Dr Samantha Wynne, Cambridge University, and Professor Peter McCowan, Queen Mary, University of London.

Students aged 11-19 will be invited to imagine how space enterprise could develop in the future for space tourism companies including Space Adventures, using facilities such as the International Space Station.


UK Considers Created an Astronaut Corps

With private companies such as Virgin Galactic getting into the space game and the United States aiming for the moon, the UK government is launching a formal review to decide whether to create a British astronaut corps.

British officials launched the review because of concerns the country could lose out in the next phase of space exploration.

Officials also unveiled plans for a new European Space Agency facility in Harwell, Oxfordshire, which will focus on climate change, robotic space exploration and applications.

In an editorial, the Financial Times says that Britain should focus on these areas instead of an expensive if flashy astronaut program. Astronomer Royal Martin Rees weighs in with similar sentiments in The Times of London.