UK Aerospace sector is thriving

3 February 2015

The Manufacturer recently reported on the UK aerospace sector’s current strong position. With the market thriving, UK manufacturers like us, who supply to the aerospace sector, are looking at an optimistic future.

This report comes at what is an exciting time for the space industry. Last November the world watched as a satellite landed on a moving comet. After a decade-long journey through space, scientists and engineers looked on in awe as the lander’s downwards-looking ROLIS descent camera in combination with the orbiter’s OSIRIS images showed the device landing, failing to deploy its harpoons effectively and bouncing from the surface in the atmosphere for a further 110 minutes. In that time, Philae travelled 1km at a speed of 38cm/s, making a smaller hop, travelling at 3cm/s and landing in its final resting place seven minutes later.

Universities, Science and Cities Minister, Greg Clark watched the landing on a visit to Airbus Defence & Space in Stevenage saying: “Rosetta has captured the world’s imagination, and the mission is a real testament to British engineering and technological expertise. I am very proud that a major part of the Rosetta platform was built in Britain here at Airbus.”

This historic event has placed the spotlight firmly on the space industry’s potential to create new business opportunities. The UK space sector continues to thrive, growing at over 7% a year and is currently worth £11.3bn to the UK economy. With more than 5,000 jobs created in the last two years, it employs over 34,000 people and supports a further 72,000 jobs in other sectors.

This recent success coupled with Philae has certainly set the wheels in motion for the UK Space Agency to invest a massive £32m in global space industry partnerships to open opportunities for the UK space sector to share expertise in real-world satellite technology and services overseas. The agency announced in November that grants would be awarded to British companies to work with international partners developing satellite technology to tackle issues like flooding, deforestation and humanitarian crises in emerging economies. These grants will be match funded by industry.

The International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP) is set to run for more than two years and will support UK companies to become partners to provide high-tech exports, which will see the UK space sector go from strength to strength.

On the same visit to Stevenage, Greg Clark said about the grant: “This programme will help our international partners to take advantage of British expertise in satellite technology, services and scientific research. This funding will give even more UK companies the chance to work on these kinds of exciting projects so that more people can enjoy the considerable economic and social benefits that new space technologies provide.”

There’s no doubt that the thriving space sector presents enormous potential for UK manufacturers. More investment is being pumped in to the aerospace sector, which inevitably presents the need for more manufacturing. One thing’s for sure - with every giant leap the UK space sector makes, the UK manufacturing industry follows closely behind.