February 3, 2021

Your next job could be in the space sector – you just don’t know it yet…

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The UK Space Agency, which funded the system, believes it will: “revolutionise scientists’ ability in the UK and Europe to access the results of their space-based experiments, from investigations into the effects of radiation on seeds to biomining research. The results will help unlock benefits for all of us, from understanding how our bodies and muscles age, to furthering our understanding of illnesses like cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.”

That the UK is now involved in such projects, and fast becoming a major contributor to the Space sector may surprise some. However, it is in fact one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, contributing £15bn annually to the economy and trebling in size in the last ten years. On an even greater scale is the amount of business that is supported by the satellite industry, some £300bn of economic activity across various sectors relies on the technology it provides.

Much of this is taking place on our doorstep in Oxfordshire.  A concentration of activity at the Harwell Campus near Didcot includes the Satellite Applications Catapult, the UK Space Agency and the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications. It is also includes private enterprise producing bespoke equipment for space exploration, such as that launched this week and even the clearing of historical debris from the Earth’s orbit. Hubs such as this have brought to the area hundreds of distinguished scientists, engineers and technical experts, as well creating thousands more jobs in supporting roles and associated industries.

The success of Harwell has led the government to promote the development of further ‘space hubs’ around the country. These will use government funding to bring together local authorities, expertise and businesses, to create a strategy for how their area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race. Funding is going to seven locations – including the North West, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire – to ensure space is a priority for regional economic growth and attract commercial investment from space companies to these areas. Science Minister Amanda Solloway:

“The UK’s space sector has shown incredible resilience to the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to play a key role in our recovery – from creating high-quality jobs to finding unique ways to support our NHS.”

The importance of innovative growth industries will be crucial to economic recovery, post Coronavirus. This is highlighted by the plight of certain sectors that have been key employers historically, such as high street retail, which has been hit significantly by the pandemic and longer term changes in consumer trends. Space, and other sectors that are viewed as strategic priorities such as the green economy, will hopefully be able to take up some of that slack as the country moves forward.

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