Space is now a critical component of the United Kingdom’s national infrastructure – it is depended upon for communications, timing and positioning, monitoring the environment and natural resources, and security and military operations. Satellites and their services are key to the UK’s economic well-being, creating some 80,000 jobs that contribute around £11 billion to the national economy.

Over the last decade, access to and the exploitation of space has changed significantly due to the emergence of small satellites that have enabled small businesses, academic institutions and almost every nation to participate directly in the benefits and challenges of space, as well as its applications for addressing their own priorities.

Historically, the UK has not had a significant national space programme or capability and, with the exception of military-communications satellites, has relied largely on the space assets of allies to meet its security and defence needs. The capabilities of small and relatively inexpensive satellites means that this strategy could be reviewed with regard to the benefits of a sovereign space remote-sensing capability and an increased ability to contribute to allied efforts. At this event, Sir Martin spoke about the strategic importance of space and the role of the UK as a space-faring nation.

Sir Martin Sweeting's slideshow from the talk is available to download above.

Sir Martin Sweeting is the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), a firm he founded in the late 1970s in partnership with the University of Surrey. Following the launches of two experimental microsatellites, Sweeting pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly capable small satellites, using modern consumer electronics to change the economics of space.

Sir Martin has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Society, Chair of the Surrey Space Centre, appointed OBE and knighted by HM the Queen. Sir Martin has received multiple awards recognising his contribution to international space development. He is a member of the UK Space Agency Leadership Council and serves as Distinguished Professor at the University of Surrey.

The meeting was chaired by Nigel Inkster, Director of Future Conflict and Cyber Security, IISS, and took place in the fourth-floor Trafalgar Room at Arundel House, 13-15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX.

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Event details

Discussion Meeting
Sir Martin Sweeting, Founder and Executive Chairman, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
Arundel House, London
Tuesday 19 April 2016, 12.30-1.30PM BST

Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

August–September 2016

This issue of Survival features Kristin Ven Bruusgaard on Russia's approach to strategic deterrence, James E. Doyle critiquing US plans to modernise the country's nuclear arsenal, and much more.