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If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to the UK Space Industry in 2022, then this it it.

In this guide we cover:

  • What Space Companies are in the UK
  • Public funding of UK Space Companies
  • Government Space Programmes
  • UK R&D in the Space Industry
  • The key UK Space Industry sectors


Half a century after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the space race is ready for the next big step forward.

At the dawn of the NewSpace era, a space-based economy is no longer the thing of science fiction. but a highly profitable industry with wide margins for growth.

Beginning in the early 2000s, the commercialisation of space has undergone steady acceleration.

Driven by the development of governmental space programmes and new forms of public-private partnerships, the importance of satellites to the wider economy shows no signs of slowing down.

Satellites deliver fundamental services, including navigation, weather forecasting, power grid monitoring, financial transactions, television services and digital communications.

They also support national security operations and play a key role in the global fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. And with miniaturisation bringing down launch costs and new space systems coming of age, more and more private companies are now able to access the global space economy, which is projected to grow from £270bn in 2019 to £490bn by 2030.

Funding the UK Space Industry

Public investments make up the bulk of funding in space activities, amounting to £58.5bn in 2019. For this reason, one of the most useful indicators to measure the strength of a country’s space economy is the ratio of space budgets to GDP. 

In 2019, the United States and Russia led the way, with space budgets accounting for 0.2% of their national GDP, followed by France and Saudi Arabia at 0.1%. The UK ranked only 11th (0.02%), bettered by Korea, Germany, China, Italy and India.

Acknowledging that the UK lags behind its international peers, last September the Government presented the National Space Strategy, which aims to increase the UK’s share in the global space economy from 5.1% in 2018/19 to 10% by 2030.

Launched in collaboration with the UK Space Agency, the Space Strategy plans to strengthen a sector that has already experienced significant growth in the last two decades.

Industry income almost quadrupled since 1999/2000, and grew by 62% since 2009/10, with UK civil expenditure on space activities increasing from £300m in 2014 to £700m in 2019.

Despite the economic contraction brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the last two years the space sector has continued to grow faster than the rest of the UK economy.

Currently valued at £16.4bn, employing over 45,000 people, supporting over 126,300 jobs across the supply chain and with satellites comprising £360bn of wider economic activity, the space industry has grown at 4.7% in the last four years, compared with the overall UK GDP growth of 3.7%.

In fact, the space sector is five times more R&D intensive than the national average, with R&D investments of £702m, up 8.6% per year since 2016/17.  

New UK-based space companies attracted investments of £4.33bn over 240 deals in the period between 2018 and 2019, with a total of 435 individual investment contributions in at least 110 space companies.

Overall, the UK hosts an estimated 1,218 space organisations, with  industrial sites and employment heavily concentrated in London, the South East and East of England, and Scotland.

Key Sectors of the UK Space Industry

These companies are active across the four key segments of the space economy:

 • Space Manufacturing. Design and manufacture of space equipment and subsystems, including: launch vehicles and subsystems, satellites/payloads/spacecraft and subsystems, scientific instruments, ground segment systems and equipment, suppliers of materials and components, scientific and engineering support, fundamental and applied research.

• Space Operations. Launch and operation of satellites and/or spacecraft, including: launch services, launch brokerage services, proprietary satellite operation (incl. sale/lease of capacity), thirdparty ground segment operation, ground station networks, in-orbit servicing, debris removal, Space Surveillance & Tracking (SST), space tourism, in-space manufacturing.

Space Applications. Applications of satellite signals and data, including: Direct-To-Home broadcasting (DTH), fixed and mobile satellite communications services, location-based signal and connectivity service providers, supply of user devices and equipment, processors of satellite data, applications leveraging satellite signals (e.g. GPS devices and location-based services) and/or data (e.g. meteorology, geographic information system software and geospatial products).

• Ancillary Services. Specialised support services, including: launch and satellite insurance services, financial and legal services, software and IT services, market research and consultancy services, business incubation and development, policymaking, regulation and oversight.

The largest segment of the space industry is Space Applications. Accounting for 71% of total industry income, this segment is currently dominated by DTH broadcasting, even though its share fell from 52% in 2014/2015 to 46% in 2018/2019.

Space Applications also experienced the greatest growth in the last two years was (+4%, +£852m), followed by Space Manufacturing (+2%, +£73m) and Ancillary Services (+4%, +£38m).

The space activities with the most significant growth were location-based signal service providers (+115%, +£453m), fixed satellite communication services (+52%, +£392m), processors of satellite data (+34%, +£146m), applications leveraging satellite data (+26%, +£219m) and suppliers of materials and components (+25%, +£157m).

Future of the UK Space Industry

Following the Space Strategy outlined in the Build Back Better plan, the next years will see the Governement committed to increasing R&D investments to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

At least £800m is going into setting up the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), which will fund cutting-edge technologies and high-risk research across nine civil and defence capability areas: Satellite communications; Earth observation & intelligence; Surveillance & reconnaissance; Command-and-control, & space capability management; Space control; Position, navigation and timing; Orbital launch capability; In-Orbit servicing & manufacturing; Space domain awareness.

Further opportunities for growth are expected to come from the Ministry of Defence, which is looking to invest £5bn in satellite communication capabilities (Skynet) and a further £1.4bn in the acquisition and development of new technologies in space domain awareness, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and other new capabilities for national security activities.

About JP Aero

We supply a wide range of fasteners for the space industry. Whether standard, metric or custom design we are leading UK experts.

We are AS9120 REV A & ISO9001:2008 approved and SC21 compliant.

Over the years we have built up a broad depth of knowledge around all types of fasteners in commercial aviation, heavy industry, oil & gas exploration, defence and now the space industry.

Our long-standing commitment to quality and service means that we work with some of the biggest organisations within the space industry, and we are available to share that expertise in our field with you.

To find out more about procuring small satellite fasters contact our team today and we will be happy to help in any way we can.

Image Credit: NASA

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