The president of Ukspace, Will Whitehorn, said the sector needed to stop having conversations with itself and talk to the wider public – and investors – about how the industry can help tackle climate change.
Describing the industry within the UK as having reached a “seminal moment,” Whitehorn said:
“We’re on the cusp of being part of an industrial revolution – or being left behind. The UK has a really good and successful space industry but the fact of the matter is the bulk of investment today has been happening in companies in the United States and Japan. They are doing better at getting investment in the current period than we’re doing here.”
“A rallying cry as to why space matters so much”
Whitehorn was a keynote speaker at last month’s Space-Comm Expo. He said the sector needed to communicate clearer on how it can provide solutions to tackle the climate emergency: “It’s really a rallying cry as to why space matters so much. It matters because of climate change and human population growth. It matters because we can industrialise there and do the things we cannot achieve in the planet’s atmosphere without reducing CO2, so we can put our solar power in space, and we can microwave it down to the planet. We can also put our digitised world in space have our server farms in space but to do that, we need to invest and Britain needs investment in the industry.”
Whitehorn’s keynote session was entitled ‘Financing the Industrial Revolution in Space.’ He described how he was working on setting up investment trusts to float on the stock market, raising £100 million to invest in British space companies. He added that government also needed to support the industry through clear regulations which he said were needed to make British space “the best in the world, but also some of the easiest [regulations] in the world.”
Space is “only way to take heat out of the planet”
He added the UK industry also needed insurance cover for space launches, along with additional software launch capabilities and satellite capabilities to help the sector develop. He suggested these could include companies with specialities within AI and quantum computing physics and pharmaceuticals which can manufacture molecules in space.
Whitehorn stressed why it was now critical to take both industry and infrastructure into space: “We have to take the heat out of the planet and space is the only way to do it.”
He added this was a message that needed to be taken beyond the industry itself and beyond conversations with government. Whitehorn said: “We need to talk to the general public about why pension funds should be invested in space companies. We’re not talking to the general public. We talk to ourselves too much, I think, as an industry.”