The Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists (ALDES) organises a fringe event at each conference. Our fringe event this Spring is entitled ‘The UK Space Industry: An Unsung Success Story’ – a topic very close to my heart, as an engineer designing space missions out of an office in Hertfordshire. Yes, ladies and gents, the UK ‘does space’. And what a lot of people don’t realise is, we do it very, very well.
The UK space industry has bucked the national trend and has seen impressive growth during the recession. Areas such as satellite broadcast, communications, equipment and support services have grown by 5-10% year-on-year and are likely to continue to do so. Our fringe event will be asking a number of key questions.
1) What is it that has allowed the space industry to grow so successfully during the recession?
2) Are there any lessons that other British industries can learn from the space industry in order to repeat this success?
3) What is it that the UK space industry needs from the government to continue this trend?
The top-class panel of speakers that we have lined up will be able share a great deal of wisdom on these issues. Our event chair is Simon Wright MP, our Lib Dem on the Parliamentary Space Committee, and vice chair for environmental issues. We have two space industry leaders on the panel: Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chair of Surrey Satellites, and Richard Peckham, business development director for Astrium Ltd, the UK’s largest space company. Last, and certainly not least, Vince Cable MP will be on our panel to provide his perspective as the head of BIS, the government department which is responsible for the UK Space Agency.
I’m really looking forward to this fringe event, not least because it is a wonderful opportunity to talk about a great UK industrial success story rather than the usual ‘we don’t do manufacturing’ lament that we so often hear about. Please do come along and listen to what will be a fascinating discussion on an area of British industry that we rarely hear about. Oh, and courtesy of UKSpace, the space industry’s trade body, there will be wine and food too!
The event is on Friday 9th March at 20:15 after the conference rally in room MEC 19.
Visit the ALDES website for more information on our campaigns and how you, too, can get involved.
* Dr Craig Brown is a member of the executive committee of ALDES, the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists and a Lib Dem activist in Haringey, North London.