World Space Week blasts off

A satellite in orbit to show World Space Week

World Space Week commences this week with events across the UK – it’s time to honour British firms making giant leaps in the industry

When the UK, US and Russia signed the Outer Space Treaty in 1967 (almost 10 years to the day after Russia launched Sputnik 1), many believed we’d be living in Martian colonies by now. By the time the UN inaugurated the first World Space Week in 1999, expectations were more down to earth, but the interest in British astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month stay on the International Space Station earlier this year suggests our thirst for space exploration is not diminishing.

Among dozens of events at World Space Week (4-10 October), Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield addresses the UK Space Centre in Leicester and former Director cover star, Professor Brian Cox, tours six venues across the country. With the industry worth £9.1bn to the UK economy and employing some 28,900 people, it’s worth making space in your thoughts for these UK stars of the sector…

World Space Week Schiaparelli lander


On 19 October, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander is due to touchdown on Mars. Farnborough-based company Qinetiq has provided the UHF-transreceiver that will enable it to transmit data from the Martian surface to the ExoMars orbiter, which blasted off from Earth in March.

World Space Week Surrey Satellite Technology

Surrey Satellite Technology

A spin-off company of the University of Surrey, now majority owned by Airbus Defence and Space, Guildford-based SSTL has pioneered small satellites – many the size of washing machines – to provide data services. It recently announced a partnership with Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall with the ultimate aim of delivering cargo into lunar orbit.

World Space Week Reaction Enginges jet aeroplane

Reaction Engines

The Oxfordshire-based company Reaction Engines recently received €10m (£8.6m) from the European Space Agency, an injection of cash that finalised the UK government’s £60m commitment to the firm’s decade-long development of Skylon – a reusable, unpiloted spacecraft that will be capable of transporting up to 12 tonnes of cargo into space.

An astronaught it suited up ready for World Space Week


Since providing its first spaceflight lithium-ion batteries in 2001, the Abingdon-based ABSL (acquired by US company EnerSys in 2011) has gone on to become a renowned supplier to the global space industry, including life support systems for Nasa’s space suits – which are up there right now on the International Space Station.

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About author

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett is an associate editor who writes about entrepreneurs, SMEs, FTSE 100 corporations, technology, manufacturing, media and sustainability.

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