Parliamentary Space Committee Summer Reception

Members Dining Room,
House of Commons
The Parliamentary Space Committee (PSC) is a cross-party
group of MPs and Peers who aim to raise awareness and understanding of the
great benefits of Britain’s important role in space, while promoting dialogue
between politicians and the space community. Around 120 representatives of
industry, government and academia attended the reception. I was very grateful
to have received an invitation to this event, held on 4th July.

The chair Adam
, MP for Windsor, praised Stephen McPartland, Vice Chair for
Telecommunications, for his involvement with the UK Galileo
competition. He also thanked Mark Garnier, Vice Chair for Regulatory Reform,
who has been working on redefining the outer space act to ensure it stays
commercially viable in the future.
“It has been a very promising year for space; David Willetts
is the strongest voice for space.”
Then Colin Paynter,
Chief Executive of Astrium Ltd, addressed the room:
“The Parliamentary Space Committee is more active and
vibrant than ever before. Since I first briefed Adam (Afriyie), it has been
seen as representing growth and policy, not just science.
People often quote me as saying “space is recession proof”,
although I never said that. Overall the sector continues to grow: the UK has 6%
of the world satellite market, Astrium took over Surrey Satellite Technologies
Ltd (SSTL) which is still growing and Galileo delivered a healthy return for
the UK.
We sell not only to the developing world, last year we sold
a satellite to America and one to Japan, as well as China and Europe.  We invest seed money in early stages. SSTL have
been supported by a grant to build NovaSAR, the first
Constellation satellite, and I’d like to personally thank David Willetts for
making that happen. I am optimistic about the future with David Williams and
his team at the UK Space Agency.
At the turn of the year, the Technology Strategy Board
announced the Satellite
Applications Catapult Centre
, which follows on from great work in academia,
industry and government. Our aim is to anchor downstream jobs in the UK.
Occasionally I envy other countries their larger space budgets; however, we are
the most export focused country in Europe.”
Rt Hon David Willetts,
Minister of State for Universities and Science, started by acknowledging:
“We know how much work goes on to
keep the profile of space high in Parliament. People across Parliament need
reminding of what space has to offer. Our structuring means we are well placed,
nimbly footed, commercially aware, and have a range of companies from big to
small, from Astrium to SSTL. Sometimes it’s our job to let things develop and
not get in the way.
The Space Leadership Council drew
up the Commission Technology Roadmap, to get the Exchequer and Industry to have
confidence in each other and long term plans. 
They also meet for discussions with ESA in the fall.
Building on our export successes, the 50 year celebrations
of Gagarin’s first spaceflight which took place in 2011 went down very well
with the Russians. I made a brief visit to Brazil, as Latin America will become
an important market. There are also opportunities to open up exports with India
and the Far East. However, we need to ensure that necessary export clearance
must not be cumbersome, which needs to be discussed with other agencies.
We will be unveiling our space security strategy next week, which
is the result of collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and the Home
office. This represents civil and security thinking all in one single coherent
document. We look forward to seeing you again at Farnborough next week. We in
government are committed to working in this exciting sector with so much
potential for the future.”

For further information about the speakers, click here.