Empowering all Women, in Space and on Earth

Message from Paul Bate, the new CEO of the UK Space Agency

It was an honour to join the UK Space Agency as Chief Executive in September and I have been impressed by the drive and determination of the many people I’ve met so far working in the UK and across Europe in this incredible sector. 

Shortly after I started, the UK Government published its National Space Strategy, which for the first time brings together the civil and military ambitions for our space sector. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, the most important takeaway is that the UK has set out ambitious plans to become a modern, agile spacefaring nation. The UK Space Agency is at the heart of how we, as a nation, deliver on that ambition. 

We are confident that in 2022 we will have the first satellite launches from UK spaceports, which presents a significant opportunity for further growth and to meet increased launch demand from across Europe. We are committed to strengthening our international partnerships, including though our membership of the European Space Agency, and to using space as a force for good, by developing our Earth observation capabilities to help meet the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow. We will also stand up for the principles of safe and sustainable use of the space environment. 

The UK is an incredibly attractive place for investment and a welcoming home for space talent.  People are at the heart of what we do and we must continue to foster a skilled and diverse workforce within the space sector. 

We also need to break down the barriers that exist for women in the sector, both within the UK and further afield. For the first time this year, female staff outnumber their male colleagues in the UK Space Agency, but the same cannot be said for the wider sector, where Space Skills Alliance research suggests that only 29% of the current workforce is female. 

Even more concerningly, women feel less welcome in the sector and are four times as likely to have experienced discrimination or prejudice of some form than their male colleagues. This would be unacceptable in any line of work, but it is frankly unforgivable in a sector that I want to see leading the way in inspiring the next generation and making the world a better place.

So there is more that we can, and must, do to ensure we support women to join the sector and develop their careers within it. I’m pleased to recommit the UK Space Agency’s support for Women in Aerospace Europe and to give all our staff the opportunity to get involved in training and networking, which is a valuable part of how we can face up to some of these challenges. 

2022 promises to be an incredibly exciting year for the European space sector and I very much look forward to getting to know even more incredible people working on missions and programmes, catalysing investment in new space technologies and supporting the growth of this exciting sector.

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