Here we go! Musk and Bezos have UK on their radar as £16bn space sector takes off

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The UK’s space sector is growing rapidly, valued at around £14.8billion a year. Sector income soared in nominal terms last year, from £16.4billion to £16.5billion, with exports counting for around a third 32 percent of this total, according to the UK Space Agency. In 2020, the UK space sector provided 46,995 jobs, up from 44,040 in 2019.

All this helps to explain why billionaires like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Blue Origins boss Jeff Bezos have the UK “on their radar” as they eye up their next investments.

Sanjeev Gordhan is a general partner of US-based Venture Capital Fund Type One, which just announced that it will set up a $50million fund to operate from a London office, to invest in space and deep tech companies in Britain and Europe.

But Mr Gordhan told that Type One are not the only ones who are interested in Britain.

When asked whether Mr Musk and Mr Bezos would join the club, he responded: “It is already on their radar.

“We know it is already on their radar because there are a couple of opportunities indirectly that we are putting out to those types of individuals.

“They are already aware of UK opportunities. Advanced materials are one of the things on their radar.

“If we are looking at more and more opportunities in different types of vehicles going into space, we need to be looking at advanced materials that can cope with the pressures or environments within space.

“I know that, because of the conversations that we have had with some of their contact network, advanced materials is an area that they have looked at for the UK.”

But this is not the only area where the billionaires may get involved in.

Mr Musk has also been tipped to launch an exciting new UK project, the Space Energy Initiative.

This project could see Britain set up the first power station in space by 2035, comprising of a system of satellites that could generate limitless clean energy for Britain.

But launching these heavy satellites requires substantial launch capability, meaning

Britain may need some help from some of the big names.

Mark Garnier, Conservative MP and Chair of the advisory board of the SEI, said: “They (the satellites) are going to be in the magnitude of tens of launches in order to get these things into orbit, and you have got to get the assembly unit up there as well.

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“This is where SpaceX comes in, with its really big launch capacity. You want big launches that could heavy payloads up into low-Earth orbit.”

And this is not the only launch SpaceX might get involved.

In fact, UK company OneWeb, which the Government partly owns, turned to Mr Musk’s SpaceX after Russia banned it from launching.

The agreement with SpaceX will let OneWeb resume its launch programme and complete the satellite constellation.

The UK’s OneWeb network, while currently carrying out different functions to the EU’s Galileo network, it has been tipped to one day rival the EU constellation.

OneWeb is a constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that beam signals in 3G, 5G, LTE and Wi-Fi for high-speed Internet access to all corners of the globe.

The foreign billionaires would be joining domestic titan Richard Branson, who has been getting involved with the UK space sector.

He has booked in the UK’s first-ever space launch with his company Virgin Orbit.

Virgin Orbit will be teaming up with Spaceport Cornwall to launch a small satellite belonging to UK company Space Forge.

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