The creation of a new European space center will add to the £6.5bn the sector already contributes to the UK economy
The European Space Agency is set to open a new facility in Oxfordshire today which will focus on a range of projects including a plan to use space data to help track climate change and improve road and rail transport.
The ESA will opened its first facility in the UK on Wednesday in Harwell, Oxfordshire which could eventually pave the way for the creation of an International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) according to the department of business innovation and skills (BIS).
For now, the ESA facility will focus on research into how to combine data and images from satellites to improve transportation and develop more sophisticated models of climate change activity.
“Today’s announcement recognises our world-class strengths in robotics, climate change and innovative space technology, and re-affirms Britain’s place as one of the leaders in European space research and technology,” said Lord Drayson, the Minister for Science and Innovation. “By establishing a European Space Agency (ESA) research and development operation in the UK we can guarantee that the economy and the public benefit from space technologies.
Drayson added that investment in UK space technology was already being used in areas such as weather forecasts, global telecommunications and medical technologies. “Britain is currently undergoing a space renaissance. This week’s announcements combined with the launch of the Space Innovation and Growth team last month will build on this to strengthen our outstandingly successful space programme and take UK space into a new age.”
According to the BIS, the UK space sector currently contributes £6.5 billion to the UK economy, supporting around 68,000 direct and indirect jobs. “The recession busting trends of the space industry has enabled it to successfully ride the downturn, and it is also predicted to grow by an average of 5 percent per year until 2020,” the BIS stated.