March 23, 2010

Dedicated UK Space Agency Announced

British officials have announced the formation of the new UK Space Agency (UKSA), a multi-million dollar organization that will oversee all space-related activity in the country starting on April 1.

The announcement, which also included the unveiling of the UKSA logo and plans for a new $60 million International Space Innovation Center (ISIC) facility in Harwell, Oxfordshire, was made during a March 23 conference in London.

The ISIC will be located within the European Space Agency facility that opened in July 2009, and will analyze satellite data, study climate change, and serve as a hub for space exploration activities.

"The £6bn (approx. $9 billion) space industry is one of Britain's real success stories," Peter Mandelson, the Secretary of Business, said in a Tuesday press release. "Year on year it provides more jobs both directly and indirectly to the UK workforce. This is exactly the kind of high value-added industry we need to support as we rebalance our economy, creating sustainable growth and the jobs of the future."

"The action we're taking today shows that we're really serious about space," added Science and Innovation Minister Paul Drayson. "The UK Space Agency will give the sector the muscle it needs to fulfill its ambition. Britain's space industry has defied the recession. It can grow to £40bn (approx. $60 billion) a year and create 100,000 jobs in 20 years. The Government's commitments on space will help the sector go from strength to strength."

In addition to plans to centralize all of the country's space activities, which previously had been a joint effort of both government officials and various science funding councils, British officials also announced plans to establish a National Space Technology Strategy, create an industry-led group to oversee the agency's activities, and study ways to use space-related to improve climate change policy, national security, and broadband Internet services.

The UK Space Agency is part of the county's 20-year Space Innovation and Growth Strategy, an initiative that combined the efforts of government, industry and academic professionals to help "Britain become a leader in the world space landscape, as well as contributing revenue, jobs and value to the UK economy," according to the official Space IGS website.


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