SCOTLAND has seen a boost in space jobs and now accounts for around one fifth of the UK space workforce, according to new figures released by the UK Space Agency.

With the UK’s first vertical small satellite launches slated to take place from Scottish spaceports, employment in the country’s space sector grew by 737 in the last year, rising from 7702 in 2019 to 8440 in 2021.

This means Scotland has the highest proportion of its population employed in the sector compared to any other part of the UK.

There are now 1293 space organisations located across the UK, with Scotland responsible for 20% of the entire UK space workforce.

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Spaceports are likely to increase jobs further in the coming years, alongside the growth of regional space clusters, international investment, and emerging technologies, such as in-space manufacturing and debris removal, supported by the National Space Strategy.

Despite the global impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, employment across the wider UK space sector reached 46,995 in 2020, up from 44,040 in 2019, an increase of 2955 (6.7%).

Overall, sector income increased in nominal terms from £16.4 billion to £16.5bn in 2020. Space manufacturing, including satellites, spacecraft, launch vehicles and scientific instruments, grew the most in real terms; up by £23 million to £2.27bn. Investment in research and development saw a 19% boost to £836m.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “Scotland is right at the heart of the UK Government’s ambition to become a global space leader.

“The industry is set to grow even further ahead of the first vertical satellite launches from Scottish spaceports.

“It’s not just space sector businesses that reap the rewards of this growth. Supply chains and workers across the country also stand to benefit.

“This is a hugely exciting time for the space sector in Scotland,” he added.