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Commercial spaceport opens aerospace career prospects

Posted by: Katherine Garratt 12 Apr 17 - 11:36AM  | Aerospace
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson recently unveiled ambitious plans that could see the UK become a global leader in commercial spaceflight. As part of the government’s industrial strategy, £10 million is being invested to enable UK access to this lucrative market and potentially create a prosperous national space sector. Recruitment Consultant and space & aerospace sector expert, Sarah Davies, discusses the future UK space vision and its potential impact on UK aerospace skills and jobs.

Commercial spaceport opens aerospace space career prospects

The space sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK economy, growing at an average rate of 7.5% in the last 5 years in comparison to 1.7% for the rest of the economy. With the satellite market transitioning from the manufacture of large, expensive and bespoke satellites requiring two year advance planning for launch, to smaller satellites that are cheaper and quicker to build and launch, there is an opportunity for the UK to capitalise, offering low cost launch solutions optimised for small satellites.

During the few months, we have seen the outcome of government and industry collaboration to further develop commercial opportunities within the UK space industry and take advantage of the thriving sector. With grants worth a total of £10 million available from the UK Space Agency to kickstart satellite launches from the UK by 2020 and sub-orbital flights in the future, the space sector is set to flourish. It is estimated that the sector could be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years.

The launch of the Spaceflight Bill last month began to put in place the necessary framework needed to facilitate and regulate commercial spaceflight. Prior to this legislation, launch systems would not have been able to operate out of the UK.

Collectively, the grants and legislation will cement the UK's position as a world leader in this emerging market, creating highly-skilled jobs, building tech clusters and boosting local economies across the country.

At present, UK consortia are being invited to propose their business case for funding. The immediate aim is to develop key technologies and create an infrastructure by the means of a dedicated UK Spaceport. There are seven possible locations in the running to become the UK’s first and primary Spaceport, including sites in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

Even at this early stage, there are a number of exciting career opportunities - from Design Engineers designing new aircraft capable of flying into the Earth’s orbit to launch the telecomm satellites, to Research Chemists developing specialised heat resistant alloys.

Thereafter, the design and construction of the UK spaceport will require thousands of skilled people to facilitate its successful completion; it is predicted 66,000 new jobs will be created in the sector in the next 15 years, more than doubling the 39,000 already directly employed in the sector.

With SpaceX sending two paying tourists around the moon and deep into space for the first time next year, the sector’s ambition to have UK-based rocket planes taking tourists on sub-orbital flights looks more realistic than ever.

There has never been a more exciting time to work in the space sector and we eagerly await the announcement of the winning consortium in the race to become the first Spaceport in the UK.

To discuss job opportunities in the space and aerospace sector, please call (01384 446143) or email Sarah Davies.
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