A new strategy to ensure Wales operates at the forefront of the global space sector, helping create high-quality jobs across the country is being launched today by the Welsh Government.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething has today unveiled the Welsh Government’s National Space Strategy for Wales, Wales: A Sustainable Space Nation, during a visit to Cardiff University, which has a track-record of being involved in world-class space research.

The strategy highlights the unique physical and business environment Wales offers companies that are revolutionising capabilities in the space sector, and sets out how Wales could become the world’s first sustainable space nation by 2040 – leading the way to a greener space.

Since 2010, space has proven to be one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, trebling in size during that time. The sector now employs 42,000 people and generates an income of £14.8bn each year.

The UK space sector has previously set a target of achieving a 10% share of the predicted £400bn annual global space market in 2030. The Welsh Government’s ambition is for Wales to achieve a 5% share of the UK’s share, which would equate to £2bn per year for the Welsh economy.

The Minister said the strategy is designed to ensure Wales’ space ecosystem is well equipped to grasp the opportunities presented by this growth potential, helping to create well-paid, highly-skilled jobs closer to home, spreading prosperity across the country. This is part of the Welsh Government’s ambition to create the conditions where more people, particularly young people, feel confident about planning their futures in Wales.

Already boasting a strong advanced manufacturing and technology base with specific strengths in sectors that share elements of the space industry supply chain, such as photonics, aerospace, secure communications and software systems, the strategy provides a blueprint for Wales to become a true haven for space industry innovation, grounded in sustainability.

Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“The global space industry is rapidly transforming. In all our day to day lives we are becoming more reliant on the space sector and the data it provides, from weather forecasting, internet banking and Sat Nav in our vehicles.

“Wales has a track record of delivering high value manufacturing and innovation which puts a vibrant cluster of space industry leaders operating here in a prime position to flourish in this growing sector.”

The Wales Space Strategy is focused on growing the potential of current and future developments in the space sector in Wales, including:

Space launch, training and experience capability at Spaceport Snowdonia at Llanbedr in Gwynedd, and proposals for sea-based launch platform to operate from Port Talbot;

Strengths in areas such as low earth observation satellite capabilities, including Cardiff-based Space Forge which is developing a reusable manufacturing space satellite. The company plans the launch of its first made-in-Wales satellite in 2023, return by 2024 and relaunch by 2025.

Satellite technology used to find water on other planets is being trialled in Wales as part of potential opportunities to make Wales’ coal tips safer.

Test and evaluation of new greener propulsion technologies at existing facilities, including Llanbedr, Aberporth Range in Ceredigion, Radnor Range in Powys and Pendine in Carmarthenshire;

A cluster of pioneering companies including Airbus Defence & Space, Raytheon, Qinetiq, and Qioptiq – who manufacture 98% of the global supply of space-qualified glass used in satellites and space vehicles; 

A network of research and teaching facilities, including the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in Newport and AMRC Cymru in Broughton, Flintshire, which support sector research and development across the UK;

The Wales Academic Space Partnership which is harnessing collaborative academic expertise from several Welsh universities.

British Astronaut, Tim Peake, said: “Space has an ability to inspire and educate future generations, as well as being at the heart of solving some of today’s toughest challenges. Technology and innovation are key to growing our economy with a skilled workforce and I’m delighted to see that Wales is embracing the exciting opportunities that the space sector has to offer.”

The Minister added:

“The new strategy being launching today provides a blueprint for how Wales will capitalise on the potential of this huge growth sector and build a space ecosystem with well-paid, highly-skilled jobs closer to home, spreading prosperity across Wales.

“This exciting sector also opens up a new front in tackling climate change and perfectly aligns with our focus on clean energy and the wider green agenda, underpinned by key policies and priorities.

“The UK has ambitions to double the size of the space sector by 2030. The Welsh Government fully backs this growth and we’re working closely with the UK Space Agency to ensure our new national strategy for Wales aligns with the UK’s ambitions.”