Government backs space technology sector with £100m investment in testing facilities
New sites in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire will reportedly allow UK players to build bigger and better satellites and engines
The government is hoping that a £100m investment in new testing facilities will help UK technology firms “unlock the potential” of the space sector.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced that it will invest £99m in creating a National Satellite Testing Facility (NSTF) at the Harwell Campus site in Oxfordshire. Satellites and other space instruments will be assembled and tested at the facility, which is due to open in early 2020.
The government said that the NSTF will allow UK space-technology specialists to create “bigger and more technologically advanced satellites”. Its opening will also mean that UK firms do not have to venture overseas to test their creations.
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Additionally, £4m is to be spent to build a National Space Propulsion Facility at Wescott Venture Park in Buckinghamshire. The site will play host to academics and businesses wishing to develop or test space propulsion engines. There will also be a facility specialised in reaction engines.
The new facilities will allow UK companies to better compete for international business, the government said, “and ensure we remain a world leader for space technologies for decades to come”.
Universities and science minister Jo Johnson said: “From Cornwall to the Highlands and islands of Scotland, the UK space sector underpins industries worth more than £250bn to the UK economy, and through our industrial strategy we will unlock the sector’s potential to grow further.
He added: “Located in a cluster known for research excellence, these new facilities will help UK companies be more competitive in the global market for space technology and support our ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.”
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