OT Ranking: TOP 20 CEOs of UK Space Companies of 2023

30th Jan 2024
OT Ranking: TOP 20 CEOs of UK Space Companies of 2023

2023 was a very intense year in terms of space activities, first launches, collaborations and company announcements. The UK space industry features many ambitious firms, and their number is growing each year. And for each of those companies, a captain and their vision are among the most important pieces of the puzzle for its success. 

While you might often hear about companies and their achievements or failures, sometimes the names of the CEOs are left behind. We want to change that. 

With our new Ranking of TOP CEOs of UK space companies, we aim to look through some of the most popular companies on the market and the people behind them.

To that end, we’ve invited companies to provide some details about their CEOs. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who responded and submitted their replies! 

NOTE: In the part of this article about Orbex, the previous CEO of the company, Martin Croates, was mentioned. Since the material was written, changes have occurred. On 10th January 2024, the company appointed Phillip Chambers as the new CEO. We apologize for the outdated information. This aspect of the article has been edited and updated from the 1st February.

Sir Martin Sweeting, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL)

Sir Martin Sweeting, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Sir Martin Sweeting is a prominent figure in the field of satellite technology and small satellite development and opens our Ranking of the top CEOs of the UK Space Companies due to his impressive experience. He is a British engineer and entrepreneur known for his significant contributions to the space industry. He is widely regarded internationally as the ‘father of small satellites’.

Sweeting earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and later completed his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the same institution. He is the founder of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), a leading small satellite manufacturer. SSTL is known for its innovative approach to satellite design and manufacturing, particularly in the development of small and cost-effective satellites.

Sir Martin Sweeting has received numerous awards and honours for his contributions to the space industry. Notably, he was knighted in 2002 for services to satellite engineering and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014.

Between 2010 and 2020, SSTL manufactured and delivered 34 navigation payloads for the deployment phase of Galileo, Europe’s satellite navigation system.

Most probably, the key focus of the company is Lunar Pathfinder – SSTL’s rover for future lunar missions scheduled to be launched in 2025. 

Nick Shave, UK Managing Director, Astroscale 

Nick Shave, UK Managing Director, Astroscale 

With 30 years of experience in the space industry, Nick Shave was appointed Managing Director of Astroscale UK on 1st June 2022. His extensive background includes senior management, engineering, and sales roles at Inmarsat, CGI, Logica, Thales Alenia Space, Airbus Space & Defence, and the UK MOD Defence Research Agency. Shave holds an MBA and an MSc in Spacecraft Technology & Satellite Communications from University College London.

In October 2023, Astroscale Ltd., the U.K. subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing the System Requirements Review for its UK Space Agency sponsored Active Debris Removal (ADR) mission, named COSMIC (Cleaning Outer Space Mission through Innovative Capture). This accomplishment not only validates Astroscale’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable space environment for future generations but also represents a substantial step towards the UK Government’s goal of leading global initiatives to address space debris and enhance space sustainability.

When asked about his biggest accomplishment so far, Mr Shave named his significant contribution to the publication of the first UK National Space Strategy in 2021 whilst he was the UK space trade association chair from 2020-2022.

As for Astroscale’s progress in 2023, in Shave’s opinion, the company is in a “strong position with world-leading novel technology already proven in space in a new, fast-growing sub-sector of the industry with high priority for many governments and space agencies.”

According to Shave, this year, we can expect an important spacecraft launch as the company aims to demonstrate Rendezvous Proximity Operations capability with its next mission, named ADRAS-J (Active Debris Removal by Astroscale – Japan) which will launch on a Rocket Lab launcher in Q1 2024.

Doug Liddle, CEO of In-Space Missions

Doug Liddle, CEO of In-Space Missions

In-Space Missions, a company known for delivering Space as a Managed Service, has been under the guidance of Doug Liddle since its inception in 2015.

An Oxford graduate with a Master’s degree in Physics, Doug Liddle started his career in the Defence Research Agency, currently known as QinetiQ. His journey continued at Surrey Satellites in 2001 as a spacecraft systems engineer. During this time, he contributed to groundbreaking projects, including Europe’s inaugural Galileo demonstrator satellite, GIOVE-A, and the launch of the UK’s first cubesat. 

In 2015, Doug founded In-Space Missions, aimed at developing new space services and providing expert consultancy for industry, academia, and government. Since then, he’s overseen various initiatives, such as managing the UK’s rocket program, spearheading disruptive innovation projects, launching commercial space demonstrations, and creating a company focused on real-time video and immersive experiences from space. 
In-Space Missions offers a range of services to start-ups, large corporations, research institutes, and defence customers. Their expertise lies in developing new space-enabled services. Recently, the company’s CEO was appointed Vice-Chair of UKspace, the trade association of the British space industry.

Luis Gomes, CEO of Clyde Space Ltd

Luis Gomes, CEO of Clyde Space Ltd

Since 2019, Luis Gomes has been at the helm as the CEO of AAC Clyde Space, a company based in Sweden but with a presence in the UK, US, Netherlands, and South Africa. Specializing in the supply of satellite components, the design and construction of integrated satellites, and the provision of services and data through its in-orbit constellation, AAC Clyde Space stands as a key player in the space industry.

Before leading AAC Clyde Space, Gomes dedicated 21 years to Surrey Satellite Technology. Commencing as an engineer, he progressed into project management and later assumed leadership roles. During the latter part of his tenure, he served as the head of the Earth Observation and Science business unit, eventually rising to the positions of Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

With a Master’s degree in satellite technology from the University of Surrey and a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from the University of Lisbon, Gomes played a pivotal role in overseeing more than 30 satellite missions at Surrey Satellite Technology. His contributions extended to initiating new business ventures and shaping the overall strategic direction of the company.

Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines

Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines

Mark Thomas serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Reaction Engines, a role he assumed in May 2015. Before joining Reaction Engines, he accumulated over 25 years of experience at Rolls-Royce, focusing on complex multinational aero-engine programs and spearheading advanced technology developments for the future of sustainable aviation.

Mark’s extensive background includes roles such as Chief Development Engineer for the EJ200 (Typhoon) engine, Chief Engineer for multiple military and civil engine programs, Technical Director of the Eurojet Turbo GmbH consortium in Munich, and Chief Engineer for Civil Aerospace Technology and Future Programs.

A graduate of Cambridge University with an Engineering degree, Mark Thomas is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He emphasises the remarkable accomplishment of Reaction Engines’ pre-cooler technology, breaking through the heat barrier and demonstrating resilience to extreme temperatures equivalent to hypersonic speeds exceeding Mach 5.5.

Under Mark’s leadership, Reaction Engines has secured investments from prominent entities like BAE Systems, the UK Government, and DARPA. 

Mark Thomas is at the forefront of leading the development of the SABRE engine concept at Reaction Engines. Notably, the company is renowned for its SABRE air-breathing rocket engine, featuring pre-cooler technology that has diversified into various applications, including hypersonic demonstrators, Formula 1, battery thermal management, and sustainable aviation.

“Probably our biggest accomplishment is around our pre-cooler technology, which is a really novel technology that enables you to break through the heat barrier,” he once said in an interview.

Kevin Seymour, CEO of Astraius

Kevin Seymour, CEO of Astraius

In the domain of space technology, a name that stands out is Astraius. The individual providing guidance to this organisation as Chief Executive Officer is Kevin Seymour.

A career spanning over a quarter-century has seen Seymour hold executive roles and board positions across military and private sectors in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Notably, he steered the $8 billion UK aircraft carrier program, which now operates jointly for UK and US forces. An adept hand at program management, his skills further strengthen his leadership at Astraius.

Kevin Seymour’s tenure as the lead for Space Operations in the Royal Navy, coupled with an in-depth grasp of UK and US Space policies and technical expertise, led him to co-found Astraius in 2020. This venture is dedicated to providing a satellite Horizontal Launch solution for clients globally, including the UK and US. Under his guidance, an esteemed leadership team has been assembled, with plans underway to execute Astraius’ inaugural launch in 2024. Kevin’s background includes serving as a former fighter pilot in operational squadrons for both the US and the UK, further accentuated by his distinction as a graduate of the UK Naval Academy.
The company itself aims to simplify, optimise, and ensure reliable satellite delivery. Recently, news of Astraius forming a strategic alliance with Spirit AeroSystems to bolster the UK’s space industry made headlines. This partnership underscores the company’s commitment to advancing the space sector and marks a notable achievement for Astraius in 2023.

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space UK

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space UK

Dr. Michael Schoellhorn is CEO of Airbus Defence and Space since July 2021 with a background rooted in military service, academia, and corporate excellence. With a PhD in Control Engineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Helmut Schmidt University, he began his career as a German armed forces officer and helicopter pilot.

Joining Airbus in 2019, Schoellhorn quickly rose to prominence, serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and transforming production, quality, and information management. His impactful leadership earned him the CEO role, where he now oversees Airbus’s defence, space, unmanned air services, and connected intelligence activities.

Beyond Airbus, Schoellhorn holds influential roles, including President of BDLI, the association of the German aviation industry, and a praesidium member of BDI, the association of the German Industry. He chairs the Supervisory Board of Airbus Operations GmbH, serves as Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, and is on the Boards of Airbus U.S. Space & Defense Inc. and Stratasys Ltd (NASDAQ: SSYS). His journey reflects a commitment to excellence, strategic vision, and transformative leadership.

Airbus, a global leader in aerospace, defence, and related services, specialises in designing, manufacturing, and delivering a wide array of commercial aircraft, helicopters, military transport, satellites, and defence systems. Just recently, the UK Space Agency granted Airbus Defence and Space has granted £3.9 million to create a state-of-the-art space and connectivity Space Catalyst at its Stevenage headquarters. 

Rafel Jorda Siquier, CEO of Open Cosmos

Rafel Jorda Siquier, CEO of Open Cosmos

Guiding the Open Cosmos team as CEO and founder is the responsibility held by Rafel Jordà Siquier. His role spans from orchestrating the first satellite mission within a swift eight months to overseeing the team’s growth and fostering a diverse clientele. Armed with an MBA in Business Administration from the EOI Business School, Rafel Siquier has honed his expertise in both corporate giants like Airbus Defence and Space.

Open Cosmos is a pioneering company that specialises in providing end-to-end satellite missions, aiming to simplify and streamline the process of getting small satellites into orbit. Their comprehensive services cover satellite design, manufacture, launch, and operations, catering to a wide range of clients, including educational institutions, startups, and established companies interested in space missions.

Recently, Open Cosmos announced the orbital deployment of its latest satellites, MANTIS and PLATERO. These satellites were integral components of the SpaceX Transporter-9 mission. As members of the OpenConstellation initiative, both satellites are poised to revolutionise Earth Observation (EO) and global-scale environmental monitoring efforts.

In 2015, Rafel laid the cornerstone of the organisation with a vision to democratise space access by pioneering the development of cost-effective low-earth orbit satellites. In recognition of his significant contributions to the business sphere, he was honoured with the prestigious Princess of Girona Business Award in 2023.

Anthony Baker, CEO SatVu

Anthony Baker, CEO SatVu

Anthony Baker serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of SatVu, an Earth Observation and satellite imagery analytics company specialising in extracting insights related to economic activity. 

With over 20 years of experience in innovative satellite enterprises, Anthony has held key roles in both commercial and government organisations. Notable positions include being the inaugural CEO at Es’hailSat – The Qatar Satellite Company, Vice President at SES of Luxembourg, and roles at AsiaSat in Hong Kong, NATO in the Netherlands, and OFCOM in London.

Anthony’s educational background is diverse, starting with a B.Eng. (Hons.) in Electronic & Electrical Engineering from the University of Birmingham (1983-1987). He then pursued an M.Sc. in Satellite Communications at the University of Surrey (1988-1989). In 1994 and 1996, Anthony completed an Executive MBA focused on The Value of Orbital Locations from the European University The Hague. More recently, in 2019 and 2020, he finished a Sustainable Finance Foundation Course from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.

SatVu, under Anthony’s leadership, launched its first satellite, HOTSAT-1, in 2023, marking the initial step in a planned constellation of eight satellites. SatVu’s captured images and short videos find diverse applications, ranging from economic monitoring and national security to climate solutions, including urban and environmental heat monitoring.

Mr Baker kindly agreed to answer our questions and told us about the company’s plans for 2024: “We are focused on paving the way for our data in public sector usage, aiding the UK to effectively manage its heat output, reducing national carbon emissions and informing industry policy to create a better Britain. We also are planning our next raise, which will enable us to add more satellites to our constellation and offer a higher output of data – accelerating our offering to more customers.”

When asked about SatVu’s progress during the year, he replied that it’s been a transformative year for SatVu. “We launched our flagship satellite, HOTSAT-1 in June 2023 after years of work. Recently, we have entered commercial operations, a milestone that was made possible by the acquisition of HOTSAT-1’s infrared imagery. This means that we are able to work with early adopters and customers to begin to inform decisions using the data, from devising climate solutions to providing insight for industrial strategy. 

This key progression in the business hasn’t gone unnoticed. Since September, we have been featured in the World Economic Forum, Forbes, BusinessGreen’s Pioneer Report, BBC News, Sky News, BBC Click, and been included in the Supercritical Climate List 100 and have won the title of ‘Hottest Space Startup’ at The Europas Tech Startup Awards. 

It has also been a pleasure to join Plexal’s Scale Up Programme and be able to discuss SatVu’s achievements and vision with the Prince of Wales. This visibility has underscored our growing influence in the space industry, the hard work of the team here at SatVu, and the monumental success of the infrared imagery that we have been working towards since the company’s conception. Our journey this year sets the stage for even more groundbreaking advancements and societal contributions in the years ahead.”

Unfortunately, earlier in December 2023, HOTSAT-1 experienced an anomaly and lost connection.

Stuart Mills, CEO of STAR-Dundee

Stuart Mills has served as the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer since 2017. Armed with a Ph.D. in Spacecraft Systems from the University of Dundee, Mills brings a robust research foundation to his role.

With a background deeply rooted in engineering and technology, Mills possesses extensive expertise in the realm of space technology and data systems. His leadership at STAR-Dundee has been pivotal in propelling the company toward innovation and excellence, particularly in delivering high-speed data-handling solutions for space missions.

“I was one of the founders of the company, which spun out of the University of Dundee to commercialise the research we were doing. This defined my future career. I would say that there have been lots of other things that have defined my career, though. For example, my part-time job as a student taught me about customer service; my first job after graduating taught me how to succeed in the industry; etc.”, Stuart Mills said about the position that defined his career before STAR-Dundee.

In 2023, the company won awards and continued to develop new products and technologies, while also beginning to explore new opportunities, according to Mills.

Looking ahead to 2024, STAR-Dundee is poised to maintain its focus on advancing cutting-edge aerospace technologies. “We should see SpaceFibre flying on more missions and hopefully the new areas we’re exploring will come to fruition,” Stuart Mills said.

Building on the success of the STAR-Tiger power supply board, it is conceivable that the company will further explore strategic partnerships with industry giants such as Texas Instruments. In the ever-accelerating landscape of space exploration, STAR-Dundee’s specialized solutions are poised to continue playing a crucial role.

Dr Gareth Morgan, CEO of Terrabotics

Dr Gareth Morgan, CEO of Terrabotics

Dr. Gareth Morgan, founder and CEO of Terrabotics, leads an Earth Observation data analytics company dedicated to developing and implementing remote satellite sensing solutions. 

With a background as a geophysicist and remote sensing scientist, Dr. Morgan has over 16 years of experience in applying earth observation technologies to industries such as oil & gas, energy, and mining. His career includes a 5-year tenure at Royal Dutch Shell. 

Six years ago, inspired by his experiences as a satellite image analyst in the oil and gas sector and as a research scientist at Imperial College Royal School Mines, Dr. Morgan founded Terrabotics. The company focuses on creating modern and scalable data analytics solutions utilising a variety of satellite sensors, ultimately delivering user-driven products to customers in the natural resources sector.

In December 2023, Terrabotics received extended co-funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency. This additional funding supports the company’s groundbreaking work in advancing Earth Observation and Energy Data Analytics solutions through the “Energy SCOUT: Energy Supply Chain Observation & Understanding Tools” project.

Unfortunately, we haven’t found any other recent company updates or announcements that could hint at the firm’s plans for 2024. 

Martin David Heywood, CEO of Newton Launch Systems

Martin David Heywood, CEO of Newton Launch Systems

Established in 2011, Newton Launch Systems has been a pioneer in the development of rocket propulsion technology. The company offers a range of services, from engineering consultancy to designing and manufacturing bespoke test equipment, in addition to testing services.

The head of Newton Launch Systems is Dr. Martin David Heywood. Born in January 1970, he serves as the Director and is an engineer by profession. In terms of experience, he also holds the position of CEO and co-founder at The Viva Group, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit. 

In 2023, Newton Launch Systems’ commitment to developing advanced rocket propulsion technology marks a significant stride in the space sector. Recently, the company was ranked as one of the key players in the UK space industry. Looking ahead to 2024, it can be inferred that Newton Launch Systems will continue to focus on enhancing its rocket propulsion capabilities. The company may also look forward to expanding its offerings in the areas of engineering consultancy and manufacturing of bespoke test equipment.

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO of Skyrora Ltd.

Volodymyr Levykin, CEO of Skyrora Ltd.

Volodymyr Levykin is a distinguished space and tech entrepreneur renowned for his success in launching and managing innovative businesses in the UK and Silicon Valley. 

Prior to his time in the USA, Levykin served as the Managing Director of an AIM-listed e-commerce business based in Scotland, boasting over 600 employees globally, before selling his stake and relocating to Silicon Valley. There, Levykin ran an IT business in California but decided to return to Edinburgh to start the space venture.

Using private funds, Levykin transformed Skyrora from a small team in 2017 to a workforce of over 100 employees, headquartered in Edinburgh, with extensive rocket manufacturing and testing facilities in Scotland.

Under his leadership, Skyrora achieved significant milestones, including being the first company to conduct a successful integrated rocket stage test in the UK since the 1970s and completing four suborbital rocket launches. Levykin’s biggest accomplishment in this position so far is the test launch of Skylark L from Iceland.

While working on the ranking of the top CEOs of the UK Space Companies, we asked Mr Levykin about the company’s most significant moves in 2024, he replied that Skyrora is “aiming to conduct an orbital launch attempt from UK soil as early as the end of 2024”.

 In 2021, he received the Space and Satellite Professionals International Personality of the Year award for his role as the founder and CEO of Skyrora.

Joshua Western, CEO of Space Forge

Joshua Western, CEO of Space Forge

Joshua Western is the CEO and co-founder of Space Forge, an in-space manufacturing company pioneering the world’s first returnable and re-launchable satellite platform. 

The company’s mission is to enable scalable manufacturing of materials in orbit, impossible to create on Earth, with a significant impact on lowering energy consumption by over 60% upon their return to Earth.

With a background in major European aerospace and space companies, as well as contributions to the UK Space Agency, Joshua brings extensive expertise in space exploration, national security, strategy, and sustainability. Concurrently, since 2022, Joshua serves as an Advisor at Type One Ventures and has been a Member of Greentech Alliance since 2020, contributing to environmentally friendly approaches in space technology.

Before joining Space Forge, Joshua worked at Thales Alenia Space from 2015 to 2020, specializing in Business Development and marketing. 

Western attended the University of Hull, where he pursued a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Politics from 2011 to 2014.

This year Space Forge made a series of ground-breaking announcements featuring new technology, such as Pridwen, the company’s advanced heat shield. Others focus on the company’s expansion into Australia and its partnership with Southern Launch. We had an opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Joshua Western earlier this year, so please read if you haven’t done so yet.

Martin Coates, CEO Orbex

Phillip Chambers ORBEX CEO

After the surprise resignation of Chris Larmour in April 2023 and Martin Coates in January 2024, Phillip Chambers was appointed as interim chief executive at Orbex. So, it’s too early to analyse his achievements in this position as he obviously needs more time to figure out the company’s progress and/or develop a new strategy.

Phillip Chambers has joined Orbex with more than two decades of experience in building innovative companies and scaling technology platforms for different European start-ups, including Gumtree, Peakon (acquired by Workday), and Qype (acquired by Yelp). 

Chambers has already been involved in Orbex’s progress, participating as an investor in the company’s Series C funding round. This funding round, conducted in late 2022, resulted in Orbex raising £40.4 million. 

Orbex is currently in the process of developing Prime, a two-stage rocket measuring 19 meters in length. This rocket is specifically designed to carry small satellites weighing up to 180 kg into Low Earth Orbit. Revealed in May 2022, Prime stands as one of the first fully orbital micro-launcher rockets introduced in Europe. Orbex has already secured multiple commercial launch contracts with satellite manufacturers.

We assume the main focus of Orbex in the near future is to conduct the first flight from the UK. The company’s ambitious goal is to become a leading launcher of small satellites, but currently, most of the company’s activities and progress are not widely disclosed. 

Addressing his new role as Orbex CEO, Chambers commented, “As we progress towards the completion of the Sutherland Spaceport and our continuing work towards our first launch, we’re about to embark on an incredible journey. Orbex’s work is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and I am looking forward to focusing all my energy on driving Orbex towards the next phase of growth”.

The upcoming Spaceport Sutherland, previously known as Space Hub Sutherland, marks a historic development as the first vertical launch spaceport on the UK mainland. This site will serve as Orbex’s primary spaceport, enabling the company to launch up to 12 rockets annually for the deployment of satellites into Earth’s orbit.

Charles Davis, CEO of Earth-i

Charles Davis, CEO of Earth-i

Charles Davis, CEO of Earth-i, boasts over 25 years of experience supporting technology companies in their transition from startup to growth stages. With a profound understanding of business, product, and strategy development, coupled with a proven operational track record, Davis has held CEO and COO roles at Earth-I Limited and SAS Global Communications. His portfolio showcases a history of driving business growth, successful fundraising, instigating transformative change, and delivering substantial shareholder value. However, according to the information we found, Earth-i is the only space company in Davis’ biography.

Earth-i, under Davis’s leadership, operates as a geospatial intelligence company leveraging machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Earth Observation data. The company provides distinctive and pertinent insights derived from diverse geospatial data, offering clear decision advantages for businesses, governments, and various organisations.

Charles Davis’s educational background includes a BA Hons (Arch) in Architecture from Oxford Brookes University, followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Architecture and a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Practices, both completed at Oxford Brookes University from 1992 to 1994, with a grade of First.

There’s a lack of information about Davis’s activities, quotes or any other expressions about the company’s future steps. 

Neil Masterson, CEO Eutelsat OneWeb

Neil Masterson, CEO Eutelsat OneWeb

Since October 2023, Neil Masterson has served as the CEO of Eutelsat OneWeb, a subsidiary of the Eutelsat Group dedicated to providing broadband satellite Internet services in Low Earth Orbit. 

Prior to joining OneWeb, Masterson accumulated over 20 years of experience at Thomson Reuters, where he held various roles and eventually served as co-COO of the global news, information, and software group. In addition to his executive roles, Masterson has served in various independent senior advisory capacities, including on the boards of Refinitiv, a financial information company, and as a member of the board of advisors for IBM, a global technology company. 

Before his tenure at Thomson Reuters, Masterson spent a decade at KPMG. He holds a BA in Geography from University College London and is a Chartered Accountant.

OneWeb’s major competitors are Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, but OneWeb still see opportunities in the market. The company completed its first-generation constellation, with deployed 634 satellites into orbit (as of 20 May 2023). It also secured key approval from the Indian space regulator for the launch of its commercial satellite broadband service in the country. OneWeb also initiated broadband service in South Africa and is targeting the maritime market. 

As we didn’t receive any reply from OneWeb, we don’t exactly know about Neil Masterson’s priorities for the next year. However, considering the above announcements, we assume OneWeb aims to cover regions with connectivity opportunities.

In a (presumed) 2021 interview with Via Satellite, Neil Masterson said: “Our proposition to deliver fibre-like connectivity to places where there is no fibre resonates strongly across the world during all of my conversations.”

Mark Hewer, CEO of Telespazio UK

Mark Hewer, CEO of Telespazio UK

Mark Hewer serves as the CEO of Telespazio UK, a key player in satellite solutions and services globally as part of the Telespazio Group. Appointed in September 2020, he brings 18 years of experience in the Defense sector. Prior to his role at Telespazio UK, Mark held the position of Vice President – Integrated Mission Solution at Leonardo UK in Luton for five years.

Starting his aerospace and defence career in 2002 as a Production Engineer, Mark advanced to the role of Project Manager, delivering mission-critical projects to both UK and export military customers. Telespazio UK’s space domain expertise covers EO/geoinformation/science exploration data systems, resilient navigation & timing, space domain awareness, civil/defence ground segment, and downstream applications & climate services.

In 2023, Telespazio acquired e2E, a move aimed at strengthening integrated space capabilities in the UK. This strategic acquisition aligns with Telespazio UK’s ambitious goal to enhance capabilities in delivering space-enabled services. The acquisition builds on e2E’s extensive experience working with defence and commercial customers, complementing Telespazio UK’s existing heritage and significantly advancing its impact on delivering the national space strategy, both from civil and defence perspectives.

Sean Sutcliffe, CEO of Oxford Space Systems

Sean Sutcliffe, CEO of Oxford Space Systems

Sean Sutcliffe currently serves as the CEO at Oxford Space Systems (OSS), bringing with him a wealth of experience from his roles at Biocleave, Cambridge Oncology, and Keit Spectrometers. He joined OSS in 2019 and previously held the position of Chief Executive at Green Biologics Ltd., a company specializing in synthetic biology technology for various high-value markets.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, Sean Sutcliffe is at the helm of OSS, an innovative company based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. OSS focuses on the development and supply of deployable antennas for space applications.

In a notable collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in May 2023, OSS and SSTL joined forces to create a knitted satellite antenna. This satellite antenna, compact and lightweight upon launch, unfurls a 3-meter parabolic reflector once in orbit. The reflector, technically known as a wrapped rib antenna, is mounted to a CarbSAR satellite.

Additionally, OSS has partnered with Viasat UK Ltd., a subsidiary of global communications company Viasat Inc., to explore the development of new satellite communications technology. The collaboration aims to create low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) terminals that are easy to use and rapidly deployable. 

Perhaps Oxford Space Systems is not the fastest-developing UK space company, but it definitely deserves to be placed in our list of the top CEOs of the UK Space Companies. Meanwhile, we didn’t find any additional information from open sources to add about Sean Sutcliffe. 

John Abbott, CEO of Satellite Applications Catapult

John Abbott, CEO of Satellite Applications Catapult

John Abbott has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Satellite Applications Catapult, effective at the end of October. His appointment follows a formal recruitment process led by the Chair of the Catapult Board, Sanjay Bhandari. 

Mr. Abbott brings a wealth of experience, having served as the Chief Digital Officer at the Real Estate Registry in Saudi Arabia, where he played a key role in delivering the Kingdom’s inaugural land ownership registry through a public-private partnership. Previously, he served as Director of Digital Data and Technology at HM Land Registry, overseeing a successful £200 million digital transformation program.

 His background also includes leadership roles at HM Land Registry and Ordnance Survey, where he managed geospatial data digitization and led innovation initiatives. With an MBA from Imperial College London, John Abbott is set to succeed Stuart Martin, who announced his intention to step down earlier this year.

In accepting the new role, Mr Abbott said: “The role of a Catapult CEO offers an unrivalled opportunity to shape the success of an entire sector. I look forward to building on the exceptional work done by Stuart Martin and the team over the last 10 years and capitalising on the well-respected position in the industry that the Catapult occupies. With our strong team and clear mission, I am excited about what we can achieve.”

Final words

While working on the ranking of the top 20 CEOs of the UK Space Companies, we used answers provided by the companies’ representatives and open sources such as media announcements, articles, LinkedIn profiles and data from companies’ websites. If you have suggestions or noticed that missed some wildfire monitoring companies you think are worth featuring in our ranking, feel free to share your suggestions with us!

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