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Mon, Sep 29, 2008

UK Science Minister Sees Strong Growth In Homegrown Space Industry

Says Turnover Has Nearly Doubled

The space and satellite telecommunications industry in the United Kingdom has seen its turnover nearly double in the last seven years and looks set to continue to grow strongly, Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson told a major international gathering in Glasgow on Monday.

The UK space industry continues to show strong growth, with the sector growing by nearly 8 percent in 2006/07 and an overall turnover of £5.8 billion ($10.4 billion US), a new report has found.

The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2008 report shows that services continue to be the dominant sector in terms of both overall size (85 percent and worth £5 billion) and growth (8 percent).

The report also reveals that total employment in the UK space industry stands at nearly 19,000, with over 1,600 new jobs created in 2006/07. Of the total, more than 5,800 jobs in the systems sector are amongst the most highly skilled in the UK economy, with 60 per cent of staff holding a first degree and one third of these also having a second degree.

Pearson said the British government recognized the importance of the space industry.

"Space is increasingly important in all our lives," he told attendees at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). "Satellite communications have made the massive growth in digital TV, global monitoring telephony, internet traffic and other broadband services possible. They play a vital role in understanding how our climate is changing. The space industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. By its very nature it's highly innovative and is one of the highest value adding sectors. It will play a significant part in driving forward the UK's future knowledge economy.

"The UK should be proud of its world leading capabilities in telecommunications and small satellites," he added. "Achievements this year include the completion of the Skynet 5 constellation built by Astrium and the launch of five RapidEye satellites based on the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited platform. Alphasat, being built in Britain, is set to bring affordable communications to the developing world."

The theme of this year's 59th IAC, last held in the UK in 1987, is 'From Imagination To Reality.' The event is being held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, and opens to the public from 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 1 through Friday, October 3 at 12 noon.



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