A MAJOR boost in space spending by the UK was agreed at a meeting of European Space Agency (ESA) leaders yesterday. Britain has pledged to contribute around £1.2 billion to European space projects over the next five years.
The payments to ESA are increasing from around £170 million per year to £240m.
Part will go into the general ESA pot that all member states commit to. But about half the funding is to be shared between ten “optional” programmes chosen to benefit the UK.
They include £161m for new research into satellite telecommunications, which is at the heart of the £9bn per year UK space industry. A further £166m will be spent on Earth observation, £81m on weather satellites, and £18m on nuclear power sources for future robotic Mars missions.
Britain is also making a one-off £16m contribution to ESA’s participation in the International Space Station.This will focus on telecommunications and propulsion technology for the American space agency Nasa’s new multi-purpose manned spacecraft, Orion.
The increased investment is expected to secure orders worth £1bn per year for British businesses.