The science minister on whether Britain will go it alone after Brexitby Sam Gyimah / June 13, 2018 / Leave a comment
For as long as humanity has looked up to the stars, space has inspired a sense of awe and wonder. The Cold War space race encouraged competition and led to inventions and new technology never previously thought about and even in today’s advanced world, there is a huge amount left to discover.
Humanity’s experiences in space have given us great examples of what can be achieved when we work together across borders, bringing together new ideas, expertise, and investment to achieve common goals.
The International Space Station is a powerful symbol of this co-operation that you can see for yourself when you look up at the stars on a clear night. When Tim Peake became the first British astronaut to visit the station in 2015 he inspired millions of people across the UK and the rest of the world. Astronauts like Peake spend most of their time conducting experiments and making scientific discoveries that benefit us here on Earth— satellite navigation, for example, has become second nature to most of us.
One of the things I’ve been most impressed with since becoming Science Minister is the innovative use of satellite technology, not just to improve everyday life but to help tackle global challenges. From monitoring the impacts of climate change to managing the spread of tropical diseases, Britain is leading the world in using space technology for sustainable development. I had the privilege of announcing one of these new projects during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April, which aims to use satellites and UK innovation to improve disaster response in Kenya.
Countries like France and Japan are developing expertise in the space industry, but right here in the UK we are already world leading. From companies like Surrey Satellites to CGI, the UK hosts some of the greatest space companies on earth. We now build one in four of the world’s commercial telecoms satellites, and there are around 40,000 jobs in the sector, supporting around £250bn of the wider economy. This is incredible and something I am incredibly proud of.
As with every industry, there are opportunities and challenges connected to Brexit. The government has been clear that the UK wants to continue playing a leading role in the EU space programmes, as we…