Uk Space Agency
Good afternoon everyone. Its a pleasure to be here at Policy Exchange.
Ive always been delighted to come to events here, theyve certainly inspired me in my career over the past 15 years.
I simply couldnt have imagined back in the early 2000s that one day Id be standing at Policy Exchange addressing this august institution as the Space minister, or as my 4-year-old daughter calls me, Minister for the Universe!
Its personally really satisfying to see Policy Exchange make that decision to gear up towards looking at space policy through the establishment of its space policy unit and indeed to launch its own space manifesto.
And of course, the date today is a very important date in any space fans calendar. For today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission.
It was at about this time 50 years ago, at T-minus 20 minutes before lift-off, that Jack King, the voice of Apollo, reported that 2 faults had been detected during countdown.
The first, was to do with communications equipment, which easily fixed.
The second was more serious, a leaky valve on the fuel line providing hydrogen to the Saturn V rocket. And a small team of technicians had been sent urgently to find a solution.
So just imagine the scenario. Twenty minutes before you start a 4-day, 250,000 mile trip into the void of space propelled by human ingenuity and around 7.6 million pounds of thrust a man with a wrench walks by and tells you dont worry, hes just got to do a quick repair to the rocket, and if theres a problem move on to Plan B.
Or, alternatively, imagine being that technician. Years of planning and training, trials and tests; millions of dollars if not billions spent; the expectations of a nation and the attention of a global audience, all waiting to see what happens. The pressure would have been incredible.
But the prize was worth it. The moon landings have inspired generation after generation after all, what child doesnt want to be an astronaut? But the spin-off benefits from the research needed to explore space have also been undeniable ranging from laser eye surgery to landmine removal, to portable X-ray machines and even baby formula.
So, it is not surprising that 50 years on, we still talk about the moon landing with admiration and reverence. And while I was born too late to see Apollo 11 touchdown in the Sea of Tranquillity, although I was watching on catch-up over the weekend the remarkable Moon landings live programme, I have always found space generally to be utterly fascinating, not least because of Apollo 11. We all know the names of the first men on the moon. When we think of space, we often think of NASA and the Kennedy Space Centre. And we all remember the immortal words spoken by Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the moons surface for the first time.
But this is where I want to make an intervention. Because, I think, for many people, thats sort of been the end of it the big challenge was walking on the moon, and once Armstrong and Aldrin had done it, we started to think that space had somehow been ticked off. After all, only 10 other people have boldly gone where those 2 did, and nobody has set foot on the moon since 1972.
But, unless youre an Olympic long-jumper, one giant leap is never the end of the story. And since 1969, weve come on in leaps and bounds in our knowledge of space, but also in our use of space.
Just look at Tim Peake our very own British astronaut. Children today have been just as inspired by Tim Peake, and his return mission to the International Space Station, as kids were by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969.
It was a real honour to speak alongside Tim on the return of the Soyuz space capsule which is now on display in the Science Museum. If you havent seen it please do go and see it. Its remarkable.
And as Space Minister Ive been quickly aware of the strength of our own remarkable space industry. Just looking at our history, the UK was the third country after USA and USSR to have a satellite of our own in space Ariel 1. And our early lead spurred the growth of key British companies like Inmarsat and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, as well as big companies active here from Airbus to Lockheed Martin.
And this strength absolutely continues today: our space industry has tripled in size since 2000, becoming one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy. It employs close to 42,000 people throughout the UK, has an income of almost 15 billion, and, through the use of our satellite services, supports an estimated further 300 billion of economic activity.
I want the UKs efforts in space to continue to grow, and for us to play our fullest role in exploring the solar system and understanding the universe. But this isnt just about looking outwards at the universe, by going to Mars or hosting the headquarters of the Square Kilometer Array right here in Britain at Jodrell Bank, which I was delighted to see had the announcement on the UNESCO World Heritage Site last week.
Most pressingly, I believe that our efforts in space will help to preserve life right here on Earth. Through measuring the temperature of oceans, to monitoring changes to biodiversity and the extent of deforestation, satellite technology today is enabling us to observe the very real-time changes happening right here on Planet Earth.
And the UK has significant capabilities in satellite Earth Observation, including through our membership of Copernicus, which I want to see continue. These capabilities range from radar remote-sensing through to ultraviolet analysis of the physical, chemical and biological systems here and also to observe how these are changing.
These capabilities are pushing the frontiers of environmental science. For instance, the amazing work being done by the British Antarctic Survey to measure sea-ice dynamics or predict the future of the polar ice sheets.
As humanitys impact on the world becomes ever more dramatic, gathering evidence from space becomes an increasingly pressing challenge.
Earth Observation, I believe, is therefore an essential green technology, vital for monitoring our changing planet and informing the decisive action we need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And this is a phenomenal economic opportunity for the UK also the earth observation sector is growing rapidly, currently supporting around 92 billion of economic activity. I want to see this progress continue as we continue to work to tackle climate change and deliver green growth.
And this work really shows that UK must continue to be one of the leaders of this new space age a space age that isnt rooted in Cold War rivalry, but in communication, in collaboration and in commercialisation; a space age which recognises the pivotal role that space will have in delivering life-enhancing and sustainable benefits right here on earth.
A very significant step, which Im also pleased that Policy Exchange has supported in its Space Manifesto, is the creation of a National Space Council, which we announced just last month, and which will coordinate the Governments space strategy and capabilities. This coordination will also be driven by a new National Space Framework, which will be owned and operated by the Council.
This will have implications throughout our society, because space affects policy in a wide range of government departments. Most obviously the Ministry of Defence for security and defence indeed, my colleague Penny Mordaunt will be speaking at the Air and Space Power Conference later this week. But also the Cabinet Office for civil contingencies, Defra for earth observation, BEIS for industry and climate change, DCMS for communications, and across many other departments in terms of the enabling technologies that space and satellite technology can provide.
The National Space Framework therefore recognises three top-level national priorities aligned with the Cabinet Office-led Fusion Doctrine: those of Prosperity and Knowledge, Security and Protection, and thirdly Global Influence.
Through these, the Council will improve its understanding of future UK requirements, deliver the practical joint working across all government departments to improve policy coherence and, importantly, working with the sector, to achieve our ambitious growth targets. Last year the Space Growth Partnership published Prosperity from Space a blueprint to build on our success to date, to enable the UK to access over 70 billion worth of new opportunities by 2030. And we set out a national ambition of accelerating growth to secure 10% of global market share in commercial space activity by this date.
The structure of the National Space Council is still to be agreed with the Cabinet Office, but we expect it to have a permanent full-time secretariat and formal supporting structures from across government, industry and academia.
As we saw from President Macrons recent announcement of a new space defence command in France, governments all over the world are recognising the strategic value of space. And for the UK, the new Space Council will provide renewed focus and ambition, to accelerate the excellent progress that weve already made to date.
Weve also reaffirmed our commitment to the European Space Agency, or ESA an organisation which we helped to found, and that we are ab