01 Feb 22. The UK will invest £1.4bn to bolster our national interests in space, as part of the first Defence Space Strategy published today.
- UK’s first Defence Space Strategy published today to address growing threats
- £1.4bn invested in cutting-edge technology to protect UK interests in space
- UK will strengthen partnerships with key allies and NATO to build stability and resilience
Following publication of the National Space Strategy in September last year, the Defence Space Strategy (DSS) outlines how Defence will protect the UK’s national interests in space in an era of ever-growing threats, stimulating growth across the sector and supporting highly skilled jobs across the UK.
As part of the new £1.4bn investment, over the next ten years £968m will be committed to deliver a multi-satellite system to support greater global surveillance and intelligence for military operations – known as the ISTARI Programme. A further £61m will explore cutting-edge laser communications technology to deliver data from space to Earth at a speed equivalent to superfast broadband.
This substantial investment in space defence is on top of the existing £5bn already upgrading the UK’s Skynet satellite communications capability – providing strategic communication services to the UK Armed Forces and allies.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “It’s crucial we continue to push the frontiers of our defence space ambitions, enhancing our military resilience and strengthening our nation’s security. This significant investment will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of space innovation and one step ahead of our competitors. Through close international collaboration with our allies and NATO, the DSS outlines how the UK will protect our space interests, build stability, increase resilience and prevent conflicts from extending into space.”
In addition to projects funded by £1.4bn, a series of supporting programmes funded through existing investment will launch as part of the DSS to provide cutting-edge technologies for intelligence, surveillance, situational awareness, and Command and Control.
An additional £127m invested over the next four years will develop a network of satellites designed to integrate space with land, air, sea and cyber. An operational concept demonstrator, the new programme “MINERVA”, will present the UK’s ability to autonomously collect, process and disseminate data from UK and allied space assets to support frontline military decision-making. Work has already commenced on the programme and MINERVA will present a developed and tested system in due course, which will be brought together under the established UK Space Command and underpin the £968m ISTARI Programme.
Designed and assembled by In-Space Missions Ltd in Alton, two tiny satellites (30cm x 20cm x 10cm), comparable to the size of a shoebox, will provide a test platform for monitoring through GPS, radio signals and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our combat allies.
These satellites will support MOD’s science and technology activities both in orbit and on the ground through the development of ground systems focussed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory site near Portsmouth.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: “With this strategy, the Ministry of Defence will protect and promote the United Kingdom’s interests in space, and take a leading role in the coalition of like-minded nations and organisations who have come together to ensure space is there for the benefit of all. In a separate development, Oxford Space Systems has today announced an investment round of £4m which, subject to final completion, will accelerate the build of their innovative Wrapped Rib Antenna. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and backed by UK venture capital investors and the National Security Strategic Investment Fund, the project will create up to 50 new jobs. The technology will enable high resolution imaging from small satellite earth observation missions, irrespective of weather conditions or daylight.”
The UK has been operating in space continuously since 1988 and boasts a world-leading sovereign satellite communications capability. UK Space Command, established in July 2021, will lead our Defence space approach, harnessing the energy and adaptability of the country’s space sector, while driving integration, innovation and conducting day-to-day space operations, all under a single command.
The DSS reinforces objectives outlined in the 2021 Integrated Review: to build resilience, shape the international order of the future; sustain strategic advantage through science and technology; and strengthen security and defence at home and overseas.
Viasat comments on the launch of the UK Space Strategy
John Reeves, Managing Director, Viasat UK: “We applaud the UK Ministry of Defence for its Defence Space Strategy and share its commitment to developing sovereign UK space capabilities to protect national interests, while also collaborating with the commercial sector, allies and NATO to bring stability to space. The space domain is essential to the defence and security of the nation. The DSS is an enormous step towards enhancing UK military operations and building the resilient capabilities needed to operate in highly contested and congested environments. As a global defence communications provider, we are fully aligned with the UK Government in its commitment to integrate satellite networks to enhance Multi-Domain Integration and assure autonomous data-sharing for greater situational awareness, delivering an information advantage over adversaries.”
Airbus comments on the launch of the UK Space Strategy
Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space UK, said: “We welcome the UK’s new Defence Space Strategy, which rightly reinforces the importance of the space domain for defence and security, and of military satellite communications for command and control and information advantage. As the operator and manufacturer of the UK’s Skynet military satellite communications fleet, which successfully supported the recent Carrier Strike Group deployment, we are at the heart of maintaining Britain’s space capability and Space Domain Awareness, and committed to the development of the UK’s space industrial ecosystem. As a world leader in commercial and military telecommunications satellites, as well as synthetic aperture radar satellites, we are committed to the provision of assured information, using space assets that are cyber secure by design. We are ready to support the Government’s ambition to be a meaningful actor in the space domain and create a mesh of both commercial and military to provide truly resilient networks and information for the demanding national user requirements.”
Detail of Space Strategy here:
01 Feb 22. Defence Procurement Minister launches Defence Space Strategy
Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin announces the Defence Space Strategy.
“It’s a huge pleasure to be here today on the next step in our execution of the Integrated Review, the Defence Command Paper and Defence and Security Industrial Strategy. A lot has happened in Defence in the last year. From assisting in homeland resilience in issues as varied at vaccine delivery to Heavy Goods Vehicle support to the largest Royal Navy deployment in decades making our positive presence felt on the far side of the world. Above all, as I speak, the Defence Secretary is meeting NATO partners, discussing the truly concerning situation on Ukraine’s borders – the most serious threat of a major war on our continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall. However the British people know that what they can always expect from UK Defence is calm, determined, delivery. We are continuing to progress the positive future for Defence to ensure we can meet the threats of the future with the most modern, integrated, technologically advanced forces reaching out through every domain. For hundreds of years we have faced down threats from land and sea. Over the last century we rose to the challenge of air warfare. One of the threats of the future. A threat that has the ability to fundamentally threaten so many of our key interests in and from Space. Building on our National approach published last year, we promised a Defence Space Strategy which I am proud to announce today. We know the opportunities that space delivers from effective global communications through to ISR. We also know of the threat. Several states are pursuing hostile capabilities that can disrupt and deny others’ use of space. A few months ago, Russia recklessly destroyed an inactive satellite – sending debris spinning around the Earth and endangering the International Space station. Just consider a simple fleck of paint travelling in space at five miles per second in Low Earth Orbit can cause huge damage to critical space assets.
But what we’re talking about here with Russia’s actions is at least 1,500 pieces of debris that we can track, its probably, ten times that amount, travelling at that speed through space, with potential to cause disastrous results to any space equipment with which it collides. Such irresponsible actions underline the dangers in a domain on which we place ever increasing reliance. Satellite constellations in orbit link up almost every aspect of our daily lives, from mobile phones, the internet and television to transport networks, and the world’s financial trading systems. Our allies and we rely on space to deliver secure global communications, provide surveillance intelligence and missile warning, as well as support our deployed forces globally. So our new Defence Space Strategy sets out a plan for us to become more resilient, more robust and a more significant space player on the global stage. We’ve begun laying the groundwork. Last April we established a single joint UK Space Command that will conduct day-to-day space operations, deliver leading-edge capabilities and generate the Force structure we need. And last September, we published our first integrated National Space Strategy. It set out our ambition to strengthen the UK’s status as a world-class space nation and become one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world.Defence is integral to this ambition. So we’ve been investing to deliver. In addition to the £5bn over 10 years already allocated to our future Skynet Satellite communications, a further £1.4bn has been allocated to support defence operations over the next decade.
Our priorities are set out within today’s strategy.
£970m will go into our new ISTARI programme. This puts in place the foundations of a next-generation constellation of ISR in Low Earth Orbit. They will be fitted with a variety of sensors which can ‘see’ across multiple aspects of the spectrum – allowing for 24/7 observation capabilities whatever the weather. Related to this, we are investing £61 million in a programme called TITANIA, which will experiment with optical laser communication technology. This will enable the transfer of data in, to and from Space at an equivalent capacity to high-speed broadband. £85m is destined to develop our Space Domain Awareness capabilities. Enhancing our ability to properly understand activity in space stretching as far as geostationary orbit and beyond – more than 36,000km from Earth. Our Space Domain Awareness activity also includes close collaboration with our US and Australian partners on the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability programme announced last July by the Defence Secretary. And £135 million has been allocated to boost our Command and Control capabilities over the decade. Besides underpinning our new Space Command, this cash will deliver our AURORA programme. Developing the architecture on which we’ll build game-changing apps so our commanders can make rapid decisions in real time. Finally, we are investing £145m on Space Control to explore capabilities that deliver carefully calibrated effects to protect our access to space and our operational independence.
Our ambitions don’t end there and are not capped at £1.4bn. So today I am delighted to announce we’re going to invest a further £127m over the next four years in Minerva. This project emerged from a Dragon’s Den style process. Testing the great ideas that come through from the Defence Innovation Unit (DIU). Minerva is about the best means to deliver the digital backbone upon which our space enterprise will depend. It is focussed on the processing power, the radio frequencies, the imaging capabilities, and the data streams to deliver space-based intelligence. Not only will it make us fully interoperable – enabling us to tap into our key Space allies. But it will allow us to share what space-derived data we discover across every domain in a timely manner. We’ll share what we know. They’ll share what they know …to our mutual benefit. Best of all we are working closely with UK companies to deliver it. Together, MINERVA and ISTAR will form the building blocks of our Defence space ISR capability. Collectively they will help us learn lessons about how to spirally develop our capabilities in an agile manner – outpacing both the rapidity of technological advancement and potential adversaries.
As I hope I’ve begun to show, this strategy is about more than capabilities. It is about partnerships. Government working as one with industry and international allies. With this in mind, I am delighted to announce another really exciting innovation. Our Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is manufacturing a tiny shoe-box-sized satellite – otherwise known as Prometheus 2. Manufactured in the UK, it is operated by the company In-Space Missions, with ground station support from Dstl’s international partners and Airbus Defence & Space UK.
Despite its tiny size, Prometheus’s payload will include a Hyperspectral Imager from Cosine Measurement Systems, Global-Positioning receivers from the University of New South Wales, a wide field-of-view imager from Canadensys, and multiple Software-Defined-Radios from Airbus UK. This exciting project is hugely innovative. We’re testing the concept, experimenting, pushing the boundaries. Investing to stay on the cutting edge. And, on top of this huge pipeline of space investment coming down the track, we’ve got our SKYNET 6A satellite, being built by Airbus Defence and Space. It remains on track for launch in 2025. These investments are about security. But they are also about prosperity. Government has already helped create a thriving UK space sector worth over £16.4bn per year, with a strong talent pipeline employing over 45,000 people in fields from satellite manufacturing to research. This makes the UK an excellent location for space businesses. The funding I’ve announced today represents a significant boost for the UK space industry and will play a key part in stimulating wider innovation, commercialisation, and growth. Rest assured, we will continue working ever more closely with industry to develop the space technologies needed to maintain our advantage and amplify our competitive edge. Knowing that, as we do, our innovative space research and development will inspire a new generation and enhance the expertise of an entire sector. So, today we’re boldly pushing back the frontiers of our Defence space ambitions. Not just enhancing our military resilience, strengthening our security, and furthering our prosperity. We are applying rocket boosters to the UK’s innovative instincts and helping our space sector surge ahead of the threats we’ll face in the future.”