Orbex Space & UK Aerospace Companies Voice Their Post-Brexit Concerns7th Jun 2021
As the UK is reshaping its economy after Brexit, many aerospace companies like Orbex Space are looking for solutions that would allow them to stay within the EU regulations. But is it really necessary and can Brexit interfere with the UK space industry development?
Legal Regulations Unaffected by Brexit
Even though the UK has its own Space Agency, the country is still an ESA member. The ESA is not a European or EU-exclusive organisation, even though its name could suggest otherwise. In practice, it welcomes other countries like Canada. So, the UK’s participation in ESA projects remains relatively unaffected. On the other hand, Great Britain lost access to vital projects, i.e., Galileo’s military and defence functionality.
Orbex Space & Other Aerospace Companies’ Concerns
Even though the UK can participate in some ESA projects, many companies are losing contracts, especially when it comes to Galileo’s defence features. CGI UK, one of the leading Galileo participants, already lost out on contracts to a Spanish competitor. Other companies, i.e., Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), had to move some of their operations to Europe to continue working on already signed deals.
Other companies, like Orbex Space, have offices in the UK and Europe, which creates certain challenges. Even as Orbex is getting ready to launch its Prime rocket from Sutherland spaceport, the question arises – what will it cost to import rocket component parts from Orbex’s production facility in Denmark?
Besides, the UK is still finalising new regulations for future spaceport operations, so it is not yet clear what the associated launch costs from UK soil will be. Given the uncertainties with launch costs and import fees, Orbex has announced its plan B, an intention to launch from a facility in the Azores if necessary.
So, if the UK intends to develop its space industry, it will have to create a friendly legislation framework for Orbex Space and other companies that plan to launch from UK spaceports.