The UK Government is set to publish its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy next Tuesday. Defence and Security International’s (DSEI) newly-appointed space advisor Dr Michael Holden told Airforce Technology his hopes for how it would address the space domain and its integration with other domains.
An awful lot of building blocks were announced, particularly in 2020, with regards to the UK’s space aspirations. The National Space Council was set up in 2020, which highlights its importance; not only is it a cabinet-level committee but it’s also chaired by the Prime Minister, which I think reflects this government’s prioritisation of space.
The MOD signed a $500 million contract for a new communication satellites Skynet 6, Alpha phase, that will be launched in 2025. In November, the Prime Minister announced a £16.5bn – $22.5bn – increase in spending on defence in the next four years. Space was one of the top three priority areas to get some of that.
The Global Navigation Satellite System GNSS programme concluded in September, and it’s being built on by the Space-Based Position, Navigation and Timing (SBPNT) programme, looking at providing position navigation and timing to the UK.
The MOD appointed Vice Marshal Harv Smyth director space and again reaffirmed its commitment to UK launch facilities being ready to operate by 2022. They’re looking at UK-designed and built launch facilities to launch vehicles and payload as a whole-UK enterprise.
The $500m investment in One Web was completed at the back end of last year. The UK Space Agency set up a space engineering technician apprenticeship in partnership with academia and industry; they start taking entrants in this year and quarter one 2021. Space Command is going to be stood up in April this year, and there was also a commitment to build a space propulsion test facility in the UK, which already has a designated site.
Many of the building blocks are all there, so the Integrated Review is looking at how all those different building blocks and strands will be pulled together; that hooks into the other departments that have a stake in the space organisation as well. A hope for the Integrated Review is that it brings all those announcements together into a coherent whole.
A full interview with Dr Michael Holden will appear in the April issue of Global Defence Technology.