Despite budget pressures at home, the U.K. plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) in European Space Agency (ESA) programs during the next five years, a 25% increase over current spending aimed at attracting more high-tech jobs and strengthening the U.K.’s position as a global player in satellite and telecommunications technology development.
Britain’s Chancellor 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 U.K. gains great scientific and industrial benefits through being a strong but selective partner in the European Space Agency.”
Osborne said the U.K. space sector, anchored byAstrium, Inmarsat and Avanti, generates £9 billion a year for the economy, and has grown at more than 8% per year through the recent difficult economic times.
“Our ambition is to have a £30 billion industry by 2030,” he said.