UK Space Agency opens office in Scotland for first time

Figures show Scotland's space sector generates £180m in income a year and employs more than 8,500 people.

The UK Space Agency is opening an office in Scotland for the first time.

The UK Government says the expansion will enable the agency to collaborate more closely with Scotland’s thriving space sector, which “plays a major role in both national and global space activity”.

The latest figures show it generates £180m in income a year and employs more than 8,500 people across more than 180 organisations – the third largest number of space employees in the UK, behind only London and the South East of England.

The new office at Queen Elizabeth House, in Edinburgh, is part of a number of changes for the UK Space Agency, which will also open offices in Cardiff and Leicester and new headquarters at the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire.

Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is a transformational moment for the UK Space Agency, responding directly to the feedback that the agency should be embedded in the sector.

“Our new headquarters, located at the UK’s biggest space cluster in Harwell, will connect to regional offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leicester, helping us recruit space talent from across the nation and deliver the National Space Strategy. 

“Scotland is a global hub for satellite manufacturing and the analysis of satellite data, and it is increasingly becoming a leading destination for satellite launch.  

“We have seen a significant rise in space organisations across the Scottish space ecosystem and it’s crucial we nurture their skills and expertise, and connect them with the wider sector, to ensure we continue this journey.”

The UK Space Agency has awarded around £30m to support companies to operate from SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst, Shetland, and £2.5m to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to develop Sutherland Spaceport, on the A’ Mhòine peninsula, as part of plans to make the UK the leading destination for satellite launches in Europe.

The UK Government also said the Scottish launch sector has benefited from funding awarded using UK Space Agency contributions to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Boost! Programme, which aims to help companies develop world-leading space transportation services and bring them to market.   

Last year, Scottish-based launch company HyImpulse, received £3.4m and RFA UK (Rocket Factory Ltd) received £3.5m to support their plans to launch from SaxaVord Spaceport.

Orbex, an orbital launch services company based in Forres near Inverness also received over £3.3m to ensure its launch activities from Sutherland Spaceport are environmentally sustainable.   

Donald Cameron, the UK Government minister for Scotland, said: “The Scottish space sector continues to go from strength-to-strength, with the latest figures showing an almost £40m increase in income and more than 100 new highly-skilled jobs with support from the UK Government.”

Dr Hina Khan, executive director of Space Scotland, added: “We eagerly anticipate the opportunities that this closer collaboration will bring, as we work hand in hand to leverage Scotland’s strengths and expertise.

“By fostering greater connectivity and cooperation, we can drive innovation, create new jobs, and propel Scotland’s space sector to even greater heights.”

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