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New hub will see West of England at front of space race and boost economy

Main image: Astronaut inspection of the outside of the International Space Station (ISS)’ © Thales Alenia Space.

Artistic view of the ‘Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway’ – a new habitable space station in the Moon’s orbit that will sustain long term human existence and, as part of NASA’s ARTEMIS programme. Image © Thales Alenia Space_E.Briot

A new hub led by the West of England will see the region at the forefront of the commercial space race and help boost economic growth.

The Government announced today (18 November) that the UK Space Agency will provide financial support for the new hub led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

In the past decade the space industry has become one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors – employing around 42,000 people and generating nearly £15 billion a year. 

The new space hub will include the National Composites Centre (NCC), the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) and the Universities of Bristol and Bath.

The universities are already involved in cutting edge research for the space sector including engineering, astronomy and planetary science as well as life and health sciences.

Space and satellite technologies make an invaluable contribution to climate change and sustainability as well as communications, connectivity – and a range of sectors from healthcare to broadcasting.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “It’s fantastic news that once again the Government has recognised our ambition for the West of England and we have secured funding for the region’s space technology businesses.

“This initial funding, working in partnership with the UK Space Agency, will launch our work to develop new opportunities and create jobs in this exciting sector. 

“There is real potential to build on our strengths and assets in the region and unlock the potential of the West of England as a ‘Place for Space’ and secure our long-term economic recovery.” 

Industrial champions on the West of England space hub include Thales Alenia Space and CGI Group, two major space anchor companies in the region, as well as LENA Space, which is developing low-cost space propulsion.

The new hub will also ensure a wide variety of space stakeholders across multiple sectors are involved.

It will also explore how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and aerospace companies adversely impacted by Covid-19 can benefit from space opportunities.

The West of England is one of seven locations securing Government funding to ensure space is a priority for regional economic growth.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “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. 

“This funding will arm local leaders up and down the UK with the tools they need to put their local areas at the front of the commercial space race, while refuelling the tank of the UK economy and helping Britain realise it’s ambitions as a global space superpower.”