As the United Kingdom prepares for its departure from Europe – whether the Conservative government manage an exit at all, never mind a smooth one – we explore what this means for its home grown space industry and whether indeed there is an impact at all.
The European Space Agency claim that even without the UK in Europe it will have little or no impact on its relationship with the UK space industry as its partnership with UKSA is not synonymous with the UK’s relationship with the European Union.
In fact from recent statements there appears to be no concern from either the UK Space Agency or ESA regarding Brexit and its impact on the UK’s new found space ambitions.
Since the announcement from the UK Space industry regarding its support from some home grown efforts to renew the country’s interest in orbital launches, some major players that span numerous European countries appear to move with ease between government sponsored space agencies both on the European mainland and the UK, raising funds from whichever country is happy to embrace their amorous advances, regardless of where their roots may lie.
Clearly the large corporations with pre-existing supplier relationships with those governments have got a head start and have already made significant ground in securing their slice of the pie, with the likes of Lockheed Martin securing the contract to provide the first vertical launch pad from the North of Scotland. Suggesting also that the UK’s relationship with USA is possibly more important than its position within Europe, regarding its space ambitions.
The front runners from the UK are yet to become clear as we see a multitude of businesses clambering to be the first to reach at least Lower Earth Orbit or even carry out a successful Sub-Orbital launch.
Not even since the early 1970s (when UK did have a space programme) has there ever been a vertical rocket launch from UK soil. Even during those that particular space programme the last launch took off from Australia. All of this makes the race to be first an even greater prize and an opportunity for the company that takes the lead to also record their place in history.