Written by Stuart Fyvie
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G&T's experience in the Major Projects & Infrastructure sector
Jul 05, 2021

Unlocking commercial spaceflight for the UK

Written by Stuart Fyvie
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Space has become one of the UK's fastest growing sectors, trebling in size since 2010 and the UK will soon have the capabilities needed to launch small commercial satellites into space.  Government investment in R&D is driving forward innovation in this sector, and increased engagement between the UK Space Agency and the wider industry is encouraging collaboration from outside of this traditionally closed market.

Rapid development of the sector is anticipated and over time will contribute to building a low-carbon, climate resilient future, digitising and transforming industry and services and boosting the effectiveness of sovereign security.

launch, Upstream and research Market

UK space infrastructure is being delivered at pace and the Government has already awarded grants totalling nearly £40m to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launches from UK spaceports. G&T's specialist consultants have an unrivalled understanding of the intricacies of the sector and the challenges faced and have established relationships with regulatory bodies, launch service providers and satellite manufacturers through the delivery of two of the UK's first spaceports in Sutherland and Prestwick. Further UK spaceport locations include south-west England, Scotland (Argyll, Shetland and the Western Isles) and Wales.

The Government's aim for the UK to be the location of the first launches of this type in Europe is becoming a reality with the completion of UK launch and upstream infrastructure expected in 2023. G&T's direct experience to date is in the upstream space market in Scotland where we have led multi-disciplinary services, providing a turnkey consultancy service for Highlands and Islands Enterprise at Sutherland and South Ayrshire Council at Prestwick. We have collaborated with airspace, launch and security advisors as well as risk and safety consultants to help our clients navigate the challenges of creating infrastructure in a new and, until this point, unregulated market. We implement robust control processes on these projects, ensuring programmes deliver expected outcomes whilst managing exposure to risk. The level of knowledge gained by our team offers a real insight into the challenges and opportunities that the new sector brings.

Gardiner & Theobald - Space Hub Sutherland N3 Gtwebland
Space Hub Sutherland - © Norr

G&T is also playing a role in shaping the regulatory environment for these space launch activities. We procured the study, which was led by Osprey Consultants, which undertook a comprehensive assessment of the draft Space Industry Regulations 2020.

The UK Government recently published its commercial spaceflight consultation response following an invitation to industry stakeholders and the public to have their say on the rules that will govern the UK's spaceflight programme, paving the way for space launches from the UK. The government is on course to legislate for UK spaceflight by the end of this year.

"Better public awareness of why space is fundamentally important to our daily lives will help drive the desire to be that space nation and inspire the next generation to provide the skills needed to grow it."

Stuart Fyvie

G&T Partner

The legislation will help propel the development of commercial spaceflight technologies - from the more recognisable vertically launched rockets and those launched from aircraft to high-altitude balloons and microgravity applications. Already a global leader in commercial small satellite research and development, government and industry have set a target to grow the UK's share of the global space market to 10% by 2030.

DOWNSTREAM MARKET

The Government's investment is expected to generate growth across a range of sectors. Universities are collaborating with industry partners on research and development opportunities, supporting start-ups to drive forward innovation in the sector. New digital and satellite technology will equip the UK armed forces with further space-based assets for reconnaissance, weather tracking, communication, navigation and much more. With inward investment a key government focus, construction is likely to see growth through new research and development hubs, data centres, manufacturing facilities with clean rooms and office workspace.

The planned Blue Abyss space exploration project at Cornwall Airport is an example of a unique facility that would support the future of the sector through human spaceflight training. The 50m deep pool would simulate the microgravity of outer space as well as deep sea environments. We have been providing Cost Management services on the project since 2015.

G&T partner Stuart Fyvie, said: "The potential for the UK to caplitalise on this market and further promote its place on the global space stage, will continue to be realised with the continued support by policymakers. Better public awareness of why access to space is fundamentally important to our daily lives will help drive the desire to be that space nation and inspire the next generation to provide the skills needed to grow it."

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