The UK space industry has set out ambitious growth plans that would see it double the size of the domestic market over the next 17 years, alongside achieving a 12-fold increase in exports by 2030.
Its strategy, the Space Growth Action Plan – published on 14 November – outlines the industry's commitment to increase its share of "the expected £400 billion [$643 billion] global space-enabled market from 6.5% to 10% by 2030". The industry has set an interim goal of growing the UK industry's annual turnover to £19 billion by 2020.
"The UK already punches above its weight in the global space business," says Andy Green, president of industry trade body UKspace.
The report comes nearly four years after the publication of an initial study which laid out a short-term strategy for the UK space sector. "This report, and its subsequent implementation, has transformed the UK's space sector," says Green. "This latest report reaffirms our ambition to grow and identifies new actions that are needed to deliver further growth."
Recommendations include creating, encouraging and sustaining a vibrant small and medium enterprise sector in the UK. "We need to find the markets and the entrepreneurs who will deliver these new technologies," says Green. "To do this we have to promote the UK as the place to do business and relax the regulatory burden on these companies."
The report also stresses the need to develop cross-sector research and development, and identify sectors where space technology can be applied – such as communications and surveillance.
Europe also plays a key role in the UK space industry's growth plan. The study emphasises the need for the UK to increase its financial returns from Europe. Also, the country's contributions to the European Space Agency must increase, and it should secure greater influence on large EU-funded programmes and encourage more UK employees to work in EU space institutions.
"The greatest challenge now is for the space industry to become more outward looking," Green says. "The aim should be to create a space-enabled economy where space components provide new advantages that lead to growth, new jobs and increased market share in areas not traditionally linked to space."
New programmes, he says, will need to address both domestic and overseas users, with the aim to grow the domestic market from £7 billion to £15 billion between 2014 and 2030, and to "dramatically" grow the export market from £2 billion to £25 billion.
A National Space Growth Programme will be established to help drive these exports and allocate government funding to worthy initiatives.
"Writing a report is the easy bit. We now have to take the recommendations forward and make it happen. Let the hard work begin," says Green.