A majority of UK space companies believe growth in the sector will slow down, although small-to-medium sized companies are more optimistic in their outlook.

Almost three-quarters of UK space companies expect to see some growth of their business over the next two years according to a survey commissioned by the British National Space Centre (BNSC). However, the majority of the 227 companies surveyed predict lower growth than has been seen in the last survey, taken in 2004.

The UK's space industry has grown by 17% over the last two years and last week the country's space minister David Sainsbury reported a total industry turnover of £4.8 billion ($8.36 billion) in 2004-05, up from £4.6 billion in 2003-04. Growth has already slowed; the increase between 2002-03 and 2003-04 was higher at £500 milion.

Growth forecasts were generally more stable than those reported in the earlier study, with a much smaller proportion of companies predicting high growth - over 10%. However, there were also fewer predicting static or negative growth, and the overwhelming majority of firms taking part in the latest study forecast relatively low levels of positive growth.

Expectations varied with firm size and sector, and forecasts from smaller companies in the upstream sector - which includes satellite manufacturers - tended to be more optimistic, while those from larger companies in the downstream sector predicted lower growth.

Period Upstream Turnover 

Downstream Turnover

Total Turnover

2002/03  £631m £3.6bn £4.1bn
2003/04 £700m £3.9bn  £4.6bn
2004/05 £726m £4.1bn £4.8bn
Source: SBAC, UK Industrial Space Cttee.  

The downstream sector, which includes satellite broadcasters and broadband providers, had a turnover of £4.1billion in 2004-05, making up 85% of the industry total.  Upstream manufacturers generated £725 million in 2004/05, a 36% increase since 2002-03. Employment in both the upstream and downstream sectors has been relatively stable and has not shown comparable growth, indicating an increase in productivity, according to the survey.

The survey confirms the space industry as “one of the most innovative, highly skilled and value-adding segments in the UK today,” says Paul Flanagan, general secretary of the Society of British Aerospace Company’s UK Industrial Space Committee.


Source: Flight International