Space: What do we want from the next Prime Minister?

Jul 16, 2019

A policy programme for turning the UK into one of the leading space nations of the 21st century, by recognising the strategic importance of Space Power to Britain’s future; reforming the government’s approach to space; raising Britain’s game in the global space race; and rebalancing Britain’s space relationships towards a more global approach.

The paper is part of a series called “What do we want from the next Prime Minister?” backed by Sir Lynton Crosby, Boris Johnson’s election strategist. It argues that the UK government must recognise the strategic importance of space power to Britain’s Future, adopt a more global approach and raise the UK’s game in the global space race.

The Manifesto is backed by Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, who says:

“As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, we should be inspired to look to the future of our own successful and growing space industry. The Policy Exchange report recognises space as a great British success story providing high quality jobs across the country.”   

The paper, by Gabriel Elefteriu, Head of the Space Policy Unit, puts forward specific policy ideas to inform the incoming Prime Minister’s thinking.

It argues that the next Government should:

  • Clearly articulate a strategic space vision for Britain in a dedicated keynote speech by the new Prime Minister. He should take personal ownership of this issue and declare space a core national interest.
  • Launch a UK-led global space alliance on space sustainability. Announce a Global Summit on Space Debris in London.
    Implement the new UK National Space Council as a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime Minister (with BEIS and Defence Secretaries as Vice-Chairs).
  • Upgrade the ministerial representation for the space policy portfolio.
  • Create a central Space Systems & Services Acquisition & Procurement capability within a reformed UK Space Agency, to serve cross-government requirements.
  • Develop an integrated long-term National Space Strategy bringing together both the civil and defence areas of space policy. Undertake a National Space Review.
  • Double the budget of the UK National Space Agency by 2022 to approximately £800m to fund a strong National Space Programme.
    Procure a UK-led PNT (positioning, navigation and timing) satellite system as a strategic capability funded as a standalone national project.
  • Procure a sovereign Earth Observation (EO) capability configured to meet cross-government needs.
  • Secure first-mover advantages in national space launch capabilities.
  • Establish a dedicated budget for bilateral space cooperation and missions to enable projects particularly with leading Commonwealth countries and Japan.
  • Seek a UK national participation (if necessary in addition to ESA) in NASA’s Lunar Gateway.

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