A wide series of announcements occurred have taken place at the Farnborough Airshow as Britain braces itself for a ‘new British space age’.
The Government announced that it will invest more than £30million in landmark projects including a rocket launch operation in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.
This is one of the world’s most innovative countries, where we nurture the next generation of designers, innovators and engineers. It was great to meet some of them at the @FIAFarnborough today. pic.twitter.com/VkLDytNMab
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) July 16, 2018
The UK Space Agency is giving Highlands and Islands Enterprise £2.5m towards the development of the facility and said it will work closely with a consortium that includes the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and will be completed by with an ambitious timeline of the early 2020s.
The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson too, announced a new generation fighter jet, Tempest. Rolls-Royce was focusing on the development of an electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicle which could provide the technology for a flying taxi within the next 10 years.
He was joined by the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, who detailed a total of £33.5m in grants from a reserved pot of £50m to help drive forward new and varied proposals as he heralded a ‘new British space age’.
Today it’s my pleasure to announce Britain’s next generation and world beating fighter jet Tempest at @FIAFarnborough as we launch our Combat Air Strategy – a £2bn investment in an industry that supports 18,000 direct jobs, 100,000 in supply chain & worth over £6bn to UK #FIA18 pic.twitter.com/WRtdt12xCk
— Gavin Williamson MP (@GavinWilliamson) July 16, 2018
This will include new work on an innovative new system for deploying satellites, with this research and development work to be undertaken in Reading and undertaken mostly by Lockheed Martin.
The UK is in a unique moment. Having pioneered the development of small satellites, through companies such as Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and AAC Clyde Space, it has put itself right at the crest of a new wave. The use of off-the-shelf, low-cost, miniaturised consumer electronics is revolutionising satellites. It is now possible to put enormous capability inside a very small box. Having spaceports would allow UK industry to offer the full “turn key” product to their customers; from design, to build, to launch. The UK will now be able to deliver the whole package.
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) July 16, 2018
Speaking at the Airshow, Orbex CEO, Chris Larmour said that “internally, I don’t think we realised just how big today is because we’ve been focussed on technical tasks. But this morning at the show, I think we’re beginning to realise just how big a moment this is.”
This is a strong announcement for the British aerospace industry, which is the second largest in the world. Two companies listed on the London stock market – BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce – are in the top 10 of the biggest companies in the sector globally and this series of announcements will be widely welcomed.