Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:56 UK

UK space sector 'to double value'

Inmarsat I-4 satellite (Inmarsat)
Major satellite manufacturing and services companies operate in the UK

The value of the space sector to the UK economy is set to double over the next decade, claims a new report.

It currently contributes about £6.5bn and employs nearly 70,000 people, many in high-skilled engineering jobs.

The new report, produced by Oxford Economics, says the industry is expected to grow by 5% year on year and could be worth £14.2bn by 2020.

Unlike some other areas of the British economy, the space sector has continued to grow through the recession.

The report, prepared for the South-East England Development Agency (Seeda), was launched to coincide with the official opening of Esa's new technical centre in the UK.

The European Space Agency is joining the Harwell Innovation Campus, near Oxford.

It hopes the venture will bring new expertise from industry to bear on its space missions, as well as spinning out the benefits of space research to the wider economy.

Pam Alexander, Seeda's chief executive, said: "Space is no longer a far removed concept - it impacts everyone through mobile phones, television viewing or weather forecasts, and is a key component of the digital economy."

Earlier this month the UK government initiated an expert panel to review the status of space activity in the country.

The Space Innovation and Growth Team (IGT) will attempt to identify key trends and then list the actions industry and government need to take if they want to fully exploit the changes that are coming over the next 20 years.

A consultation also began on Monday into the issue of whether Britain should have a dedicated space agency, to better co-ordinate activity across government, industry and academia.

The UK's civil space budget approaches £270m a year.

The Oxford Economics report is called The Case for Space: The Impact of Space Derived Services and Data.

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