Launch of a new space strategy for Scotland

It is the beginning of a new age, with the Scottish Government very recently announcing a new strategy in a move to secure a £4 billion share of the global space market for the Scottish economy.  “A Strategy for Space in Scotland” outlines various plans to develop a network of satellite launch sites, pursue green technologies and further develop existing strengths in data analysis and research.   

Space Industry Regulations

The new strategy follows on from the regulatory framework that was recently introduced for the UK space industry, which now allows for spaceflight and satellite launches from the UK.  The Space Industry Regulations 2021 which implement the Space Industry Act 2018, put in place a regulatory regime for spaceflight operations to be carried out in the UK.  These regulations form part of a wider updated regulatory package comprising the Space Industry Regulations 2021, the Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021, the Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021 and the Contracting Out (Functions in Relation to Space) Order 2021, all of which came into force on 29 July 2021.  See our earlier article: New Space Industry Regulations blast the UK commercial space sector forward at the speed of light (macroberts.com)

The new regulatory framework is of historic significance as it paves the way for the first spaceflight and satellite launches from the UK and enables the licensing of launch, return, orbital, spaceport, and range control activities.  The UK Government intends to allow launches as soon as summer 2022, and this would make the UK the first country to launch into orbit from Europe.

The Scottish Space Strategy

The Scottish Space Strategy represents a collaboration among the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies, the industry group Space Scotland and the Scottish Space Academic Forum.

The Scottish Space Strategy is intended to:

  • Position Scotland as a global leader for commercial space developments;
  • Establish a range of managed launch and orbital services, to support the largest launch capability in Europe;
  • Develop a world-leading environmental strategy for the space industry in Scotland – from reducing emissions to supporting the use of satellite data for environmental monitoring; and
  • Build Scotland’s international economic opportunities through increased exports and targeted inward investment to address any capability gaps.

The Scottish Space Strategy can be seen as an exciting initiative which seeks to build on significant existing sectoral strengths.  Scotland already has close to one fifth of space sector jobs in the UK with the number of space businesses in Scotland having increased by over 65% since 2016. 

The Scottish Space Strategy was launched virtually at Expo 2020 Dubai, with the Business Minister, Ivan McKee remarking that it demonstrates the “determination of the space community to work together to deliver this ambitious agenda”.  In addition to the £4 billion share of the global space market, the strategy is intended to deliver a dedicated launch capability by early 2022 and create an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.

The Chair of Space Scotland, Craig Clark recently commented that the “strategy represents a landmark in the development of the Scottish space sector and looks to build on the impressive growth and momentum the sector has demonstrated over the past decade.”  

Scotland is hopefully well positioned to take advantage of the global growth predicted for the space sector.  The new strategy certainly establishes a framework for growth which is designed to make Scotland a space system provider for the growing global market – providing an excellent launch pad to take the Scottish space sector to the next level.

A Strategy for Space in Scotland can be viewed here: strategy (scottishspace.org).

This article was co-written by Manahil Qadir, Trainee Solicitor. 

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