About the Space Policy Unit
Launched on 23 April 2019 by the US Secretary of the Air Force, Hon Heather Wilson, and UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore, Policy Exchange’s new Space Policy Unit is the first of its kind at any UK think tank. Its mission is to champion a comprehensive development of UK “space power” as a critical component of the UK national interest in the 21st century. Our goal is to help lift Britain’s space ambitions to the next level, and help build a strong, exciting vision for UK in space that can be taken up by Government and Parliament in the years ahead.
There is a significant disconnect between Britain’s current global standing as a P5 and G7 military (including cyber) and economic power and its comparatively limited sovereign capabilities (and public investment) in space. Our Space Policy Unit will take a 360-degree approach to this challenge. Apart from the cornerstone aspects of space defence and security, our work programme will also consider the economic/industrial policy requirements for building a strong national space programme, exploring the way Britain can best contribute to the shaping of international norms in space and use its evolving space power in support of its global interests and those of its allies.
The new Unit is led by Gabriel Elefteriu, Policy Exchange’s Head of Space Policy, and looks to engage with partners from across industry, government, academia and the not-for-profit sector. Read more about our approach in Gabriel’s op-ed in The Times here.
This analysis by Gabriel Elefteriu notes that the UK’s first Defence Space Strategy is an excellent document with an assertive message. It maps out a coherent and logical path towards UK space power. But delivering a range of complex space capabilities quickly within tight budgets will be a major challenge for the MoD: real civil-military integration and a unified space decision & acquisition authority at the heart of Government is required. The Defence Space Portfolio is also an economic tool that can shape the industrial landscape, so the way the new Own-Collaborate-Access framework will be applied should be a matter of wider debate and geopolitical consideration as well.
In Britain and the Geopolitics of Space Technology, Dr John Sheldon argues that spacepower has become critical in shaping the 21st century strategic competition and that space is a strategic sector of national security interest.
Unleashing the power of the Union – ideas for new leadership
The Ministry of Defence hit a milestone this week with the establishment of the Secretary of State’s Office of Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC), a little over three years since Policy Exchange first laid out the full case for it in our report, A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment.
The UK’s new National Space Strategy (NSS) comes at a critical juncture as global space competition sharpens and as the Government seeks to define the space dimension of Global Britain. With its vital role in the functioning of modern economies, militaries and many other critical services, space has quietly become a strategic component of national power writ large. It will be decisive to the UK’s fortunes in the decades ahead, both for our prosperity and security – and for Britain’s place and standing in the world.
Space power will become as significant in shaping human affairs as geopolitical power. (Originally published in the New Delhi Sunday Guardian)
The UK should consider setting up a new Space Council “along the same lines as the USA”, according to Chris Skidmore, Science Minister, in order to help create a “joined up government policy towards space”.
Monday, 10 May, 2021
15:00 - 16:00
In post only since March this year, Dr Aschbacher has taken charge of the European Space Agency (ESA) at a critical time, particularly with negotiations over the agency’s next multi-annual budget set to begin next year. In this address at Policy Exchange – his first as ESA Director General to a UK audience – Dr Aschbacher outlined his vision for the ESA and discussed how the agency can best serve UK’s interests.
Tuesday, 16 July, 2019
13:30 - 14:30
A keynote speech by Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. Followed by a panel on ‘Space Policy: What do we want from the next Prime Minister’ with, Lucy Edge, COO and Executive Director, Satellite Applications Catapult, David Morris MP, Chair, Parliamentary Space Committee, Graham Peters, Chair, UKSpace, Rt. Hon. Lord Willetts, Former Minister for Universities and Science, and Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive, UK Space Agency
Tuesday, 23 April, 2019
11:00 - 12:30
The launch of our new Space Policy Unit and a discussion on the role of space power in the 21st century with Heather Wilson, US Secretary of the Air Force
Wednesday, 9 May, 2018
12:30 - 14:00
The Government has chosen the space industry as one of the first six key challenges to be targeted by the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with £100 million of funding for a new National Satellite Testing Facility. At the same time, the Government has launched a new series of grants to support the development of new spaceports, while the Space Industry Act aims to reduce regulatory barriers to commercial spaceflight.