Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has outlined plans for the UK space programme.

The Minister also committed £30m to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator within a year.

“The small satellite demonstrator, which will be supported by a new transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel, named Team ARTEMIS, will sit alongside a host of other programmes that will demonstrate the UK’s leading future role in space.”

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, said:

“I am delighted that the Secretary of State has announced our plans to take our space ambitions to the next stage through Project ARTEMIS.

When this is combined with our investments in the training and development of our people, improved command and control, greater space situational awareness, and our commitment to the Space Coalition with our allies, it all underlines the importance and constantly growing role of Space in the Royal Air Force’s capabilities.”

In a release, the MoD said:

“ARTEMIS gives us the opportunity to grow skills, understand the military relevance of small satellites and responsive launch, and consider how to get space-based information to the warfighter in operationally relevant timelines, all of which are vital to ensure we stay ahead of the evolving threat.”

The plans also include the UK becoming the first partner nation to join Operation Olympic Defender, a US-led international coalition formed to strengthen deterrence against hostile actors and seconding an RAF test pilot to Virgin Orbit’s small satellite programme.

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Daniele Mandelli

216 Squadron is to be reformed, as a “Space” squadron. To do what exactly?

A new capability or just a typical rebranding of existing assets?


We might see a UK space force lol

Daniele Mandelli

There are elements of the RAF at High Wycombe and Fylingdales already involved in “space” for decades in some cases.

The RAF like to reform cut aircraft squadrons, taking existing capabilities, which makes it look like the RAF is expanding and the squadron list healthy.

Smoke and mirrors.

Hence my wish for info as to just what a “space” 216 Squadron entails.

Geoffrey Roach

Hi Daniele
216 is being stood up as an experimental unit to test the viability of drone swarming systems as part of the R A F ‘s future air combat project.

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Geoffrey.

Oh, must have my squadron numbers mixed. Thought that was No 23.

Daniele Mandelli

Just checked. I indeed got my numbers mixed.
No 23 is the “Space Squadron”


I quite like anticipating future developments even when they are far from imminent you therefore have a basic Structure already in place to exploit opportunities rather than scrambling to catch up to events and struggling to form coherent ways forward to efficiently exploit those events as they happen. I would not have anticipated a British space launch station 10 years ago so things may develop swiftly and for once we are not left in a state of lethargy. How well we now exploit it so its not purely tokenism is another question of course.


Would be nice if we could next have a maned launch capability, but no doubt far to expensive and we may aswell use European, Russian or American launch assets, I would like the UK to have something like Japans space industry. Small Satellite launch is a good start and let’s hope all goes well up in Scotland.

Meirion X

There is a plan for UK space ports, including one vertical port in the north of Scotland.
I believe a Shetland space port, would be good for ‘polar orbits’.


Yeah but it’s just for small satelites m8, but it’s a start not many nations can even launch satelites.

Bloke down the pub

The miniaturisation of satellite technology has changed the optimal size . With the problems involved with long term space debris in higher orbits, and vulnerability to ASAT, it now makes more sense to put up smaller, cheaper, shorter life satellites into low earth orbits. This also allows for a rapid, flexible response to changing circumstances. The UK builds 40% of all the worlds small satellites and having the means to put them in orbit from the UK can only be a good thing. The Virgin Orbital solution may well prove to be ideally suited to the UK’s needs, as it… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

Horizontal launch facility moving to Goonhilly too. Virgin Orbit.

Geoffrey Roach

Levy The spaceport is actually at Newquay on the North Cornwall coast. Goonhilly will provide specialist electronic support but is also the site for a separate unit to research a Lunar Pathfinder Mission.

David Flandry

The UK had the ability , and launched one satellite in 1971, and quit. Then the French got a hold of the first stage of the launcher. Now they are the premier space power in Europe. Stupid government.

Geoffrey Roach

Stupid government of 1972. This government is the first since the 80’s to recognise the value of space, hence the development and expansion of the U K Space Agency. Overall space currently brings in in excess of £18 billion per annum and employs over 40000 people directly. the plan is to at least double that by 2030. At long last the U K is back in space..big time!

David Flandry

Good, I hope they follow through on everything.


The one in the North of Scotland is planned for polar orbits.


Project Artemis and Operation Olympic Defender are really two distinct undertakings. Operation Olympic Defender is a US Space Command Initiative whose purpose is to share the US’s space war plans with a small number of allies, most likely the Five Eyes. The UK is the first nation to join the program. It is a US effort to make allies understand what the US can and cannot do in space; and, just as importantly, share the intelligence and information from the US’s space situation awareness centers. Any modern day war fighter needs access to this intelligence and it certainly is something… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I read that Reagan described in his diaries a briefing he recieved on US space capabilities, that X number of personnel could be put in orbit. The total was far greater than the capacity of the 5 shuttles in existence.

So yes, there are other assets up there, and they fall under the DoD black budget, not NASA.

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks for the info on Olympic Defender.


NASA has absolutely nothing to do with the US Space Command and I made no mention of NASA. NASA is a civilian agency and Space Command is part of the US Air Force. Any space intelligence or ASAT capabilities, black or otherwise, come under DOD. NASA has a very specific charter.

Daniele Mandelli

I know you made no mention of NASA.

I made mention if NASA.

By saying what you’ve just said.

And I did not suggest you’d said that either. I simply said they are DoD, not NASA!

Oh dear!






The Reagan diary entry reads: “Lunch was with 5 top space scientists. It was fascinating. Space truly is the last frontier and some of the developments there in astronomy etc. are like science fiction except they are real. I learned that our shuttle capacity is such we could orbit 300 people.” However, it’s not clear if he is claiming that the shuttle fleet could put 300 people in orbit at the same time or 300 people in total over the course of their expected operational lifespan. It’s also possible that he could have misheard or misunderstood what the scientists told… Read more »


I was watching an IMECHE video of a presentation by Reaction Engines, they see the selling of their Sabre engines in to the space launch business as a future business stream. So I cannot see why a small launch capability based on this technology would be beyond us, technologically the key technologies are surely there or thereabouts – proved via MBDA and friends? Need to complete development and integration of the Sabre engine, package delivery and ground control system but they heavy lifting, is surely done? On a tangential theme, I see India are about to put a man on… Read more »


With the news today that the Royal Navy is not fit for purpose, that the few ships remaining are out of date – described as ‘aged’ in one newspaper – and that the sole aircraft carrier has no fixed wing planes on it, perhaps the mone would be best spent there as opposed to being spent on space programmes?