LONDON – As part of an ongoing inquiry into the future of the British space industry, the House of Lords of the United Kingdom took evidence on June 6 from The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) and its wholly owned UK subsidiary, Vaeros Ltd. Experts from Aerospace’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS) and Vaeros drew on the findings of the CSPS April 2019 paper What Brexit Means for UK Space Leadership to frame an inquiry that could result in a new strategic direction for the UK in space.
Eight months after UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK would pursue its own sovereign global navigation satellite system through the UK Space Agency, the House of Lords’ Internal Market Sub-Committee is again considering the UK’s options in space, including options for navigation satellite systems.
“An important takeaway from the paper is that while the pursuit of an independent and global navigation satellite system may be the result of the Brexit, it is not an inevitability of Brexit,” said Sam Wilson, co-author of the paper. “The UK has a lot of options. And those options raise important questions and considerations for UK space leadership.”
While the session covered important themes in the paper, it also widened the discussion to include the topic of critical human capital issues. Gina Galasso, co-author of the CSPS paper and managing director of Vaeros Ltd., cited the “lack of suitably qualified, experienced personnel in regard to space” as a pressing matter for the UK government and space industry.
Jamie Morin, executive director of CSPS, said during the session, “What is achievable in space is growing—and that’s an enormous opportunity for the UK, the US, and private players.” He added that the space sector in the UK is an area “of great ferment, energy, and opportunity. The comparatively blank slate that the UK is writing on post-withdrawal from the [European] Union is an opportunity and a challenge.”
The chairman of the committee, Lord John Lawrence Whitty, thanked the Aerospace and Vaeros teams for their hour-long testimony, noting it was very helpful.
To learn more, download the CSPS report at https://aerospace.org/paper/what-brexit-means-uk-space-leadership. Video of the committee hearing is available from the UK Parliament at https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/0a425ec4-1b23-474d-b086-ac13df404b50.