UK satellite exports go into orbit

UK space exports on track to meet ambitious targets of exports making up 60% of the UK space sector.

UK space exports are set to grow to £25bn in the next decade, meeting the industry and government target for space exports to make up 60% of the UK’s space sector revenue by 2030.

As the sector celebrates National Space Day (3 May 2019) and as the race to space intensifies, businesses in the UK are seeing the demand for their products and services rising globally, with small satellites leading the way. In 2018, UK exports of space craft including satellites grew to £282.92m, supported by DIT’s Space Exports Campaign. Growing demand is being met by companies such as Oxford Space Systems (OSS), who are finding 70% of their business is coming from the United States. It is currently building one of its highest value export developments – a Large Deployable Antenna (LDA) – for LEO Earth observation mission using radar technology for a commercial customer looking to launch in 2020.

This will be the first non-US (and therefore International Traffic in Arms Regulations free) LDA launched into orbit, a major milestone both for OSS and the UK space sector.

Founder and CEO at OSS, Mike Lawton said:

“The US is the epi-centre of the New Space industry, so it’s little surprise we see the bulk of enquires wanting innovative, cost-sensitive technology against compressed lead times coming from the United States. It’s only natural that as part of our continued growth, we’ll have a presence in the US in the not too distant future to better serve our customer base.”

Business Development Manager, Michael Loweth said:

“The UK has a wealth of space expertise to leverage and has ambitious goals of trebling it’s space industry by 2030. It’s only natural that most of this growth is going to come from exporting the UK’s novel and innovative technology globally, especially considering the global nature of the space industry. There’s an unparalleled level of support for SMEs like OSS from the UK government through the UK Space Agency, Innovate UK, Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), and through DIT. The UK space start-up scene is really the envy of the world!’’

The Space Exports Campaign aims to enhance the position of UK companies in the international market. The offer to exporters includes space trade missions to priority markets including the USA and India, detailed information about new markets and access to a network of overseas market specialists.

The campaign includes a focus on the major space primes, such as Boeing and SpaceX in the United States, who value businesses that have innovative products that can enhance to better their capabilities.

As part of the campaign, DIT will be hosting a stand with the UK Space Agency at the Satellite Show 2019 Conference 6-9 May in Washington D.C., to showcase UK capability in space on the international stage.

And with the UK’s historical expertise in satellite innovation and manufacturing, it has a skilled workforce ready to meet the demand of this growing industry.

It is estimated that around 1,300 satellites will be launched between 2017 and 2020 with the UK at the heart of the industry’s expansion. To support this, the UK Space Agency runs a range of programmes such as the Space for Smarter Government Programme, which is delivered in collaboration with the Satellite Applications Catapult. It has created five centres of excellence across of the country to drive engagement and growth of the sector within industry and academia.

The UK Space Agency is also a leading contributor to the European Space Agency’s ARTES programme (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems), which supports R&D to produce innovative and leading-edge satellite communications products and services.

Deputy Director for Technology, Entrepreneurship and Advanced Manufacturing Team at DIT, Dylan Thomas said:

“When it comes to the commercial space industry, the United Kingdom is a truly global player.

“The UK is positioned to take advantage of this evolving sector and having developed without the assistance of a large national space programme, the UK space industry has always had a more commercial, market-orientated approach to space.

“The 21st Century will herald an age of mass produced satellites serving multiple uses on earth to provide “go anywhere” connectivity, and the UK is leading the charge.”


Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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