Despite budget pressures at home, the UK plans to invest £1.2 billion in European Space Agency (ESA) programs over the next five years, a 25% increase over current spending aimed at attracting more hi-tech jobs and strengthening the UK's position as a global player in satellite and telecommunications technology development.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the funding increase in a speech delivered Nov. 9 at the Royal Society, less than two weeks before ESA's ruling council will meet in Naples, Italy, to set a multiyear budget for the agency.
“Because space involves substantial investment, much of it is better done through international collaboration,” Osborne said. “In particular, the UK gains great scientific and industrial benefits through being a strong but selective partner in the European Space Agency.”
Osborne said the UK space sector, anchored by EADS Astrium, Inmarsat and Avanti, generates £9 billion a year for the economy, and has grown at over 8% per year through the recent difficult economic times.
“Our ambition is to have a £30 billion industry by 2030,” he said.