The ‘integral’ value of the University of Leicester and its flagship Space Park Leicester development to the UK’s space sector has been highlighted in Parliament.
Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, spoke at a Westminster Hall debate of the significant contribution which the University and its projects continue to make to the UK space sector, following her visit to Space Park Leicester in November.
Science Minister, George Freeman, added his endorsement of the work taking place at Leicester, describing the region as “an absolutely vital location in the UK space ecosystem”.
He went on to describe Space Park Leicester as “an excellent example of locally-led regional technology hubs, and one that I am encouraging others to look at”. He added that “Space Park Leicester is absolutely integral” to the UK’s contributions in space science and technology.
The University of Leicester has a long-standing space heritage stretching back more than six decades.
Leicester research and innovation in space plays a major role in the UK space sector, with Space Park Leicester expected to boost the regional economy by £750m a year and create 2,500 jobs while supporting many of the national objectives of the Government’s new National Space Strategy, published in September.
Speaking as part of the Parliamentary motion, Liz Kendall said: “There is huge potential for space science and technology to create the high skill, high quality jobs of the future, to boost economic growth, to tackle climate change, and help keep our country safe.
“Leicester is at the forefront of the space sector in this country, and is extremely well-poised to lead development both nationally and internationally.
“The University of Leicester is globally recognised for its space research. Space Park Leicester builds on this proud tradition, bringing together our world-leading University research with industry in state-of-the-art high-tech facilities.
“Space Park Leicester is very well-placed to lead growth in the UK in low-cost satellite production and across the world.”
The debate also highlighted the work of the neighbouring National Space Centre – and in particular its National Space Academy outreach programme, inspiring the next generation of STEM ‘superheroes’ – plus the vital work of the UKRI-NERC National Centre for Earth Observation, hosted at Space Park Leicester.
The first phase of Space Park Leicester, with partners including Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, opened to researchers in the summer. The first resident businesses include AST SpaceMobile. A second phase, containing state-of-the-art workshops and labs, as well as the UK’s largest academic clean room for the assembling and testing of space equipment, is due to be operational to most of its occupants by Christmas.
Future plans include further development on the Leicester site, with a commercial Low Cost Access to Space (LoCAS) payload and satellite manufacturing facility for the manufacture of mid-range satellites.