Britain intends to spend an extra £60 million per year on space technology, by increasing it's investment into the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Chancellor George Osborne, in a speech to the Royal Society, announced that the UK is willing to commit an average of £240m a year, over the next five years to the ESA, increased from the usual investment of £170m. This has been done in the hope of encouraging domestic job growth via attracting lucrative contracts.
This announcement comes at a surprising time, when many countries are in fact cutting their investments into space programs, especially across Europe. But as UK officials recognise the resurgence of the British space industry (it's a £9bn industry), and the investments made into the ESA's satellite program forming six-to-one returns, it seems like a smart move to make, also holding the potential for Britain to become a key leader in Europe's space industry.
“We are now at a watershed where space is transitioning from a celebration of science endeavour into a capability that impacts on our everyday lives.” Chancellor George Osborne commented in his speech, referring to the many benefits of communication and live transmissions possible with satellite technology.
The message is clear that Britain had underestimated the strength held by the space industry, and with this move, it hopes to bring the investment more in-line with the potential for innovation and economic prosperity.
For someone fascinated by space (such as myself), this announcement cannot be anymore exciting. As a fellow citizen of the UK, bringing greater investment of attention and funding into space is something I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of. Fascinating the future generations with a new frontier, and encouraging us to 'start dreaming' again.
To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Penny4NASA" campaign, which seems all the more relevent here:
These programs fund people who enable tomorrow to exist today
These are the Foundations of tomorrow’s economy