Every 5 years the European Space Agency (ESA) members meet to agree the overall budget and country level commitments for the 5 years ahead. Considering the macro economic climate this year’s record 16.9bn euro subscription provides clear evidence of the growing strategic importance of the space domain.
In particular this marks a great outcome for the United Kingdom, driving national sector growth whilst demonstrably showing the UK’s ambition and leadership in several important areas. Science Minister George Freeman rolled-up his sleeves championing the UK Space sector, achieving every mission aimed for along with the headline grabbing success of the UK securing more astronauts than any other country.
This positively sets the tone for the next 5 years with a strong commercial mindset for the UK. We were pleased to see a good balance between the big programmes along with the more innovative programmes aligned with the interests of Seraphim.
The UK surprised the market in 2019 stepping up its contribution, post the outcome of the Brexit referendum and we were encouraged to see this heightened level maintained at 11% of the 2022 total commitments. Italy was the surprise nation this time, materially increasing their commitment to 18% rolling their Covid reserve funds into their ESA commitments. This is positive news for Seraphim portfolio companies such as D-Orbit.
Notable points within the UK’s £1.588bn commitment include 1/3rd of their selective budget going into Earth Observation, this £314m allocation is a decent step up since 2019 and a strong commitment to the area core to Seraphim’s own strategy – the development in digital infrastructure in space will help address some of the big challenges faced by the planet. £122.6m was committed to 5 ESA projects and a further £66m allocated to 12 UK-Led programmes including the Truth mission designed to develop climate action capabilities.
Furthermore UK committed £71m to Technology Development which included an important contribution to Solaris, the ground breaking ESA R&D programme focused on developing solar farms in space aimed to provide clean energy to the planet.
We were particularly buoyed by the £111m UK commitment to Space Sustainability, another area where the UK is demonstrating leadership that is well aligned with the Seraphim strategic goals such as debris capture and removal from space and through to the development of the market for satellite life extension technology solutions.
In relation to the telecommunications UK committed £207m towards the integration of satellite technology into 5G and 6G communications networks, including commitments to space optical and quantum communications.
We applaud the UK’s pragmatic approach, putting aside the still unresolved Copernicus issue, by stepping up its commitment to Earth Observation. This package from UK will catalyse further investment, leveraging this ESA commitment, actively driving flagship programmes led by the UK relating to addressing climate and sustainability issues from space.
Seraphim is hugely encouraged by the outcome of the ESA Ministerial 2022 budget in that the UK has laid down clear plans to invest-in and scale-up capability in this strategically important market.