19 Jul 2019

Defence secretary outlines space programme

The Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has spoken about the  MOD’s ambitious space programme in a speech at the Air and Space Power Conference.

Penny Mordaunt detailed how the UK has promised £30million for the MOD’s space programme and how Joint Forces Command will be changed to Strategic command to cover air, land, sea, cyber, and space. A small satellite demonstrator will be launched within the next year supported by Team ARTEMIS, a transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel.

The UK will become the first partner to join the US-lead Operation Olympic Defender, a coalition formed to strengthen deterrence against hostile powers and reduce debris in orbit. The UK will send eight personnel to the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) in California to join the US and international partners.

Penny Mordaunt said: “Today we show the sky is no longer the limit for our Armed Forces with a multi-million-pound investment in the launch of a small satellite demonstrator, supported by a new transatlantic team of defence personnel.”

“In the face of evolving threats from hostile actors in space, we are acting more closely than ever with our international allies through Five Eyes, NATO and now Operation Olympic Defender.”

“Faced with the evolving threats posed by grey-zone warfare, our transformed Strategic Command will provide the structure and coordination our Armed Forces need across all five domains.”

In the speech, Penny Mordaunt confirmed that the RAF will send a test pilot to the Virgin Orbit programme. Virgin is launching small satellites from a Boeing 747 Aircraft.

DSTL has invested more than £1.5million into space facilities at Portsdown West. This includes the installation of a new satellite control station able to direct satellites in geosynchronous and low-Earth orbit.

The new strategic command will have a greater role across defence domains and forms a part of the modernising defence programme. In her speech, Penny Mordaunt said that the Strategic Command will be part of the transformation programme and take on a wider role in assessing strategy across the MOD.

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