A welcome note from the Programme Committee

Ben Olivier, Programme Committee Chair

With 2023 UK Space Conference returning as an in-person event for the first time since 2019 and having attended all previous events I am both pleased and privileged to chair the programme committee.

In learning from past conferences, the programme committee has responded to the feedback for fewer parallel tracks to allow more time for interaction with other delegates, the increased availability of senior staff from government and its agencies and for a broader range of perspectives to be presented. The UK Space Conference has an important role in the governance of space activities in the UK by providing the opportunity for constructive challenge and high-level interaction and I look forward to an active participation from all. 

The conference is (this year) incorporating many of the objectives of the UK’s Defence Space Conference with one of the three tracks ‘Secure’ including contributions from senior defence leaders, and specialists covering policy, strategy, and research.

As a country the UK has many advantages, a world class academic sector, an open society and a culture of assimilating and integrating new ideas and approaches. Within the UK we have benefited from a continuity of policy and investment in the sector through successive administrations dating back to the early noughties, the conference plenaries start with examining the strategy that has been developed and conclude with the forward look to how we invest to further realise the strategy.

A lot has happened since the 2019 conference including the first attempted launch from UK soil, two ESA Ministerial Councils, the redefinition of our relationship with European partners, an escalating level of engagement outside of traditional institutions and the growing creative force of early phase businesses financed by private capital.

The programme committee has recognised that this presents challenges as well as opportunities and these are reflected in the agenda for the ‘Grow’ track, where we have contributions covering the rise of AI and quantum technologies as well as the proliferation of communications from LEO satellites. The programme also addresses the challenges of regulation, recruiting and resilience in the supply chain as well as the opportunities of Space Clusters.

For me, space is also an endeavour that is not contained by borders, it is a common resource, and most of what is achieved in space has had contributions from many nationalities with the consequences of scientific discovery and exploration impacting on everyone both economically and culturally. How we use space and what we do on Earth to exploit the benefits of space can be hugely significant and the sessions in the ‘Discover’ track will explore both the positives and the potential negatives of current and new approaches.

I would like to thank the programme committee for their efforts to construct a programme that covers a broad range of topics of relevance. I would also like to thank everyone who submitted some of the hundreds of proposals in the open call for the conference, all of these were considered in detail and that many of the themes that emerged are reflected in the conference programme.

 - Ben Olivier, Arqit, Programme Committee Chair