UK has strong message about space sector strength, expert says

A meeting of European space ministers will allow the UK to send a “strong message” about its strength in the sector, an expert has said.

In November the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ministerial council will convene to decide on new proposals and funding for ESA’s next years of work.

The 22 ministers will gather in Seville, Spain, to decide on ESA’s vision for the future of Europe in space.

Dr Alice Bunn, international director at the UK Space Agency, said that despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a potential general election, she is sure the UK will have a role to play in the meeting.

Speaking at the UK Space Conference in Newport, the vice chairwoman of the Council of ESA, said: “I am fully confident that we will remain a strong participant in that meeting.”

Dr Bunn told the PA news agency: “As with every previous ministerial, we are watching the opportunities, we are watching the pressure.

“I am looking forward to us being able to make very a strong contribution, because it is a very strong message to the rest of the world about the readiness of the UK to really take up international partnerships in earnest.

“We have the opportunity to send a very strong message to the rest of the world about the excitement of the UK space sector.”

She explained that she would like the UK to come away from the meeting with some of the key technologies that play into the global exploration system sufficiently resourced.

Dr Bunn also said she wanted the UK’s scientific priorities realised through the agreement of a global roadmap towards the next exploration efforts.

She added: “We would like to maintain our leading position in earth observation and in telecommunications.

“There is the opportunity to demonstrate those everyday benefits back to earth.

“There are some fantastic new initiatives, particularly playing into the 5G agenda.

“This idea that we can have ubiquitous high speed connectivity everywhere can only be enabled through a satellite contribution to that infrastructure, and I think that remains largely invisible, so we certainly have to play a very strong part in that.”

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