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How Scotland's Space Industry Is Growing

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 20, Aug 2019
2 min read

Space technology is being used for more than exploration of our solar system. Once only limited to communications, satellite technology can now be used for data analysis. Today, it’s being used to fight deforestation, monitor crops, and rescue missing people. Thanks to the global nature of the technology, leaders in the satellite industry can enjoy international sales across virtually all sectors.

Scotland’s space industry is booming, in large part thanks to pioneering work in the satellite sector. Scottish companies are excelling at building the hardware, designing the software, and in training other companies to use it all. More satellites are being built in Glasgow than in any other city in the Europe.

Scotland’s Department of International Trade is predicted to be worth £4 billion by 2030. A fifth of the UK’s 40,000 space sector workers are based in Scotland. Scotland is home to over 130 space businesses, responsible for a combined yearly income of £140 million.

Why Is Scotland’s Space Industry So Strong?

  • Location

£31.5 million of Government funding has been set aside to create a spaceport based in Northern Scotland. The far north of Scotland is logistically ideal for the job. Removed from busy flight paths, the location allows for launches without the risks that could pose a threat to populated areas.

This would be the only launch facility in the UK and Europe, and is currently the only service missing from Scotland’s impressive suite of space offerings. This would mark complete end-to-end capability for the country: design, manufacture, launch, operations, and analysis.

  • Local Talent Pool

Because the Scottish space industry has enjoyed such strong growth over the last few years, a formidable talent pool has gravitated to the area. This has started a positive cycle: the industry was strong so talented engineers migrated to the area, making the industry stronger.

On top of this, world-class Universities in Scotland mean a pipeline of graduates is always available for enterprising startups. It’s predicted the new launch facility will provide around 400 new jobs by the end of next decade.

  • Space Technology Is Useful In Many Different Industries

Scotland rose to dominate the satellite industry thanks to its work on smaller satellites. The bigger and heavier the satellite is, the more it costs to send into space. Smaller satellites are more cost-effective. Glaswegian company Clyde Space managed to carve out a niche providing the components for these smaller models, before expanding their services.

The Future of The Scottish Space Industry

The future of the space industry lies in research and innovation. Scottish scientists will soon start work on the world’s first ever Gravitational Wave Space Observatory, a facility designed to study ripples in space and time. The discovery of gravitational waves won a Nobel Prize in 2017, and started a new era in astronomy. The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago,  could tell us much about the origins of the universe.

The Scottish Space industry is showing no sign of slowing down any time soon, with further investment and expansion planned over the coming decades.

Read more about the future of the UK space industry, or learn about the UK’s plans for a new satellite defence system.

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