The UK's space sector is to receive almost £200m from the government in a bid to propel the industry further onto the world stage, with significant investment put towards a British-designed, more efficient rocket engine.
The funding will see £60m go towards the ultra-efficient Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre), which has the potential to create jobs for 21,000 highly skilled engineers.
Elsewhere, £134m will go towards Portsmouth-based Astrium, which is developing instruments for the next generation of weather satellites. This portion of funding has come from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Science minister David Willetts said that investments such as these will be crucial to keep the UK as a significant player on the world stage. "The space industry contributes over £9bn to the economy every year and supports tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs," he said.
"But to meet our target of capturing ten percent of a growing world market we must harness new opportunities in new areas of space."
Willetts is to announce the funding officialy at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow alongside Major Tim Peake, who will become the first British astronaut in space for 20 years when he embarks on a mission to the International Space Station in 2015.
While the news is good for the space sector in terms of investment, the government is in the midst a STEM skills crisis, with a predicted shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths graduates every year, according to the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.
In a bid to tackle the issue, the government unveiled new ‘tech level' qualifications earlier this month, giving vocational courses more value for both employers and trainees.
Earlier this year Nasa announced that a serving chief technology officer had been selected as one of eight trainee astronauts in its continued space exploration.
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