There have only ever been 9 British astronauts. But Yorkshire can lay claim to the first ever with Sheffield born Helen Sharman and two more British astronauts, Nicholas Patrick and Piers Sellers have Yorkshire connections.

But space isn’t all about astronauts.

Satellites and the data they provide are critical. They are involved in everything from traffic management to farm productivity, from digital ecosystems to smart cities. Earth observation satellites monitor our environment and provide essential services in time of natural disaster. New applications combining satellite data, GPS and communications technology will help drive down carbon emissions. And that’s just the start.

Since 2010 the UK space sector has trebled in size now generating £15bn each year for the economy and employing around 42,000 people. It supports approximately 15% of the UK’s wider GDP through space-based services.

With the global space market predicted to grow to over £400 billion per annum by 2030 the government is keen to ensure that the UK captures at least 10% of it, and at the same time contributes to growth in the regions as part of the UK levelling up agenda.

Enter Space Hub Yorkshire.

This initiative aims to ensure that Yorkshire becomes a destination for space. By creating a vibrant network of business, academia and stakeholders in this sector there is an opportunity to increase inward investment, intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship in our region.

We have world leading expertise in our Yorkshire Universities. Connecting this orbit of innovation to our businesses can create new ideas, opportunities and business models.

Supported by our LEPs, Space Hub Yorkshire will create a front door to connectivity, ideas, funding and support. It will create a network, organise events, connect people and business, provide a hub for the region and ensure Yorkshire is a thought leader in space.

Our regional growth strategy will be published in April. This exciting piece of work will lead the way for growing our share of the UK space market. It has involved the UK Space Agency, the Space Applications catapult and the thoughts of stakeholders in the region. It will map our landscape and provide the nuanced understanding we need to succeed in our ambitions. Early findings show excellence in both upstream manufacturing and downstream data lead activities and a wealth of activity already happening in our region.

Mandy Ridyard, Chair of Space Hub Yorkshire and Chief Executive of Bradford-based aerospace engineering company Produmax said “This dynamic initiative aims to develop a world leading space hub. Accelerating economic growth through technology and innovation is a priority for our region and this exciting work will create new opportunities by harnessing the world-class expertise and talent already in our region”.

And our region has bucket loads of space talent. One of the world’s largest and most sophisticated satellite signal intelligence facilities is operated by Yorkshire residents on behalf of the people of the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Satsense in Leeds students have recently been tracking the new A74 iceberg that broke off the brunt ice shelf last week, using Sentinel-1 data. Hull born Edward Milne (1896 – 1950) was largely responsible for helping to understand stars – his research paved the way for our modern understanding of the history and evolution of the universe. More than 46,000 attendees have learned about space and the universe via the E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics established in Edward’s legacy in Hull.

Training the next generation of space leaders is a key priority for Space Hub Yorkshire. Our pipeline of talent is essential in helping deliver our Yorkshire space ambition. And our ambition is huge. Watch this space!

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