New science minister visits flagship space conference

New science minister visits flagship space conference

Newly appointed Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore visited the UK’s flagship space conference at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) on 6 December.

The Appleton Space Conference celebrates the latest UK advancements in space science and Earth observation.

The visit to RAL, part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI’s) Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), was one of the first outings for Mr Skidmore in his new role. He was appointed on 5 December.

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“As my first visit as Minister for Science and Innovation, RAL Space has been a fascinating showcase of our world-leading expertise in space research and technology development.

“I’m looking forward to getting started with my new role and leading on this exciting and transformative portfolio.”

RAL is located on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, where 150 jobs were created in 2018 alone, and a further 35 new jobs will be advertised shortly for the UK’s £99 million National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF).

The NSTF will be the UK’s largest facility for testing satellites before they go into orbit. The government has invested £99 million to establish the NSTF on the Harwell Campus through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Professor Chris Mutlow, Director of STFC RAL Space and Chair of the Appleton Space Conference said:

"The Appleton Space Conference is the flagship event for the UK space sector to gather together to discuss the latest developments in our cutting-edge industry. I was delighted to welcome the Minister to our conference to meet the leaders and innovators of the sector. We were able to show him some collaborative space projects taking place in our space test facilities which will be expanded under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to become the National Satellite Test Facility."

The Appleton Space Conference gives leading figures from within the space sector the opportunity to meet and discuss the latest developments on a range of current and future space activities. 

Professor Mutlow opened the event, joining speakers including Andy German, Lead Satellite Applications, at UKRI’s Innovate UK; Michele Dougherty, Professor of Space Physics, Imperial College London, Dr Simon Boxall, Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, part of UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council; Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, Chief Executive of M Squared Lasers Ltd; and many more leading figures within the space and technology industry.  

Mr Skidmore, the Conservative MP for Kingswood in South Gloucestershire, has been an MP since 2010. He served as a Cabinet Office minister from 2016 to January this year before being appointed as Conservative Party vice-chairman for policy.

Further information

The full programme for the Appleton Space Conference can be downloaded here.

Find out more about NSTF on the STFC website.