` Athena: A New Approach to Space

United Kingdom News

New report highlights how UK can seize the moment to become a leading space nation
Athena's roadmap to ensure UK space sector becomes world class
The UK is at a critical point and the time to step forward and become a leading space nation is now.
  • Athena – Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK – publish report supported by Bryce Space and Technology showing new approach to space for UK
  • Suggested roadmap to ensure UK space sector becomes world class for the future with the technological, economic and industrial benefits that this will bring


LONDON, UK, NOVEMBER 16, 2020: Athena, the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK, has today published a report with support from Bryce Space and Technology that showcases the opportunities available to the UK through growth in its space sector and how to seize the moment to do so. The report is available here.

Ahead of the Defence Space 2020 conference (17-18 November), of which Athena is a strategic partner, the team argues that now is the right time to propel the country towards an ambitious, achievable goal of becoming a respected space-faring nation, by galvanising the UK and its society, across both civilian and defence communities.

Athena – representing an end-to-end, sovereign and UK-based approach to space services – believes that the United Kingdom has reached a pivotal moment in its space aspirations. Currently it is trailing behind nations such as France and Japan, who are considered robust space powers due to the depth and sophistication of their space capabilities, which they put to good use in their pursuit of a clearly defined national strategy and the resulting widely-recognised economic, technical, societal and security benefits.

Chris Rocks, Capability Director Space and Security at Serco, said: “The UK is at a critical point and the time to step forward and become a leading space nation is now. The UK Government is taking steps towards achieving this aim with the formation of the National Space Council and its forthcoming National Space Strategy. Industry also needs to play its part and it is in this spirit of cooperation that Athena has published this report to set out a proposed roadmap to success with emphasis on key focus areas that can deliver the most benefit to the UK to make its space ambitions into reality.”

The report, called A New Approach to Space, recommends seven key areas of focus for the UK to 2030:

  • Integrate military and civil space operations into a National Space Operations Centre to jointly operate key national infrastructure and maximise data sharing
  • Invest in satellite communications to deliver a secure platform for military and government
  • Develop a sovereign space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing capability to address urgent national requirements and to enable burden sharing with key allies
  • Establish satellite launch operations from the UK
  • Invest in research and development and create a National Space Academy to nurture STEM talent and develop a career pathway into space
  • Increase contribution to space domain awareness
  • Participate in the European Space Agency Copernicus Programme and further support earth observation activity with additional UK programmes

The report identifies a set of principles and enablers to achieve these goals, including effective regulation and licensing, public awareness-raising, and the development of a diverse supply chain. Activity should be driven by the development of a National Space Strategy, the report recommends.

READ THE REPORThttps://athena-space.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Athena-A-New-Approach-to-Space.pdf

Space and its associated capabilities are strategically vital to civil, commercial, security and defence policy ends. As a nation, the UK is wholly reliant on it for everyday activities such as satnav for commuting, through to precision timing for banking, global navigation services for shipping and earth observation services for weather forecasting. It has been estimated that the loss of global navigation satellite system services alone would cost the UK economy in excess of £1 billion per day.

Athena, launched in May 2020, was formed to seize development opportunities that new space technologies will offer, driving economic growth for the UK and diversification across the British space sector as Athena succeeds. The combined capabilities and technologies available to Athena will enhance further the country’s ability to deliver the UK’s ‘Prosperity and Security in Space’ strategy, which aims to increase the value of space to wider industrial activities to £500 billion, generate an extra £5 billion in UK exports and attract £3 billion of additional inward investment.



The UK has significant potential for strong growth in the space sector, as it develops in importance worldwide to facilitate new technologies such as driverless transport, enhanced navigation, secure communications for defence and for industry via the Internet of Things (IoT) and, more broadly, as part of 5G and other hybrid networks.

Therefore, the report outlines that the space sector needs a long-term strategy to enable it to develop and to continue to deliver enhanced economic growth as well as this vital work. As part of the suggested roadmap for the sector, Athena has proposed seven key focus areas for the UK, summarised as follows:

Key focus areas for the UK 2020 to 2030:



Although the UK has made substantial progress in recent years in devising and driving forward national space ambitions, the report highlights that there are still significant challenges, as well as opportunities, to ensuring successful outcomes in the UK space sector over the next decade. Some of these opportunities require strategic and targeted investment, creating the right tax incentives, as well as making best use of cross-Government, space-related, budgets.

Athena believes that overcoming challenges faced by the UK space sector requires a coherent, integrated national strategy that aligns well with UK ambitions and leverages industrial and allied capabilities. UK industry needs new models and approaches to support the growth of its world-class space capability and economy. For example, the report recommends that industry friendly policies, balanced with national security and safety considerations, will cost little but can benefit the economy, military, and civil space programmes significantly.

The report sets out both imperatives and underpinning enablers to deliver on the ambitious way forward advocated by Athena for the UK space sector. Athena believes that UK imperatives should include:

INTEGRATION: Centralising accountability, providing effective organisation across Government, ensuring the right people in the right places with the right skills, through an integrated approach across programmatic and user domain areas, while ensuring an efficient regulatory and licensing environment
SECURITY AND RESILIENCE: Ensuring systems are designed from the outset to operate in a contested space domain and can counter terrestrial threats
WORKFORCE: Recognising space is strategic to the nation’s interests with a public awareness campaign and ensuring skills are prioritised and used to best effect
SUPPLY CHAIN: Fostering a more diverse UK-space sector and avoiding any trend towards excess consolidation or monolithic supply; creating more   innovation through diversity.  Securing technology and innovation leadership through strategic decision making, investments in core capabilities and attracting industry investment. 
SOFT POWER AND INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCE: Ensuring the UK is a world-leader in space technologies and applications and is taking advantage of increased international collaboration.

Athena also highlights the essential underpinning enablers to deliver this strategy:

  • An efficient regulatory and licensing environment
  • A people strategy via a Space Academy / Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEM) / to deliver Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP)
  • An enhanced R&D and innovation landscape – access to institutions and academia needs to be done in a more strategic way with deepened ties between Government and academia too
  • Public understanding and engagement in space-related activities, such as:
  • providing a route into advanced STEM skills more broadly
  • developing public support for state activity and spending in space through enhanced understanding of society’s reliance on space for resilience
  • building awareness of technology capability in government as well as industry
  • Ensuring diversity of the supply chain to ensure resiliency and redundancy that leverages greater capabilities and reach without compromising on price
  • Harnessing new space capabilities that provide a qualitatively different approach and the opportunity to rebrand these activities to attract new STEM students and broad skillsets that further support resiliency in the workforce



Athena is the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK. The four companies are world leaders in providing technology and services across defence, space, communications and information technology to governments, businesses and other organisations. Together as Athena they offer a new approach to space and innovation for the UK industry.

While continuing to operate as separate companies, Athena will see Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK – already major employers in the UK – develop shared capabilities to meet future demand for space-enabled solutions for business and government customers. This will also aim to boost the UK economy, in partnership with the UK Government’s growing focus on the space sector and its priorities around ‘levelling up’ economic benefits across the country. Unleashing untapped potential in the UK space sector through future export business will deliver further growth and job creation at the four companies’ sites across the country as well as enhanced skills in the UK workforce.

To find out more visit www.athena-space.co.uk and follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

For more information on the Athena companies please see below.

Serco - trusted to deliver critical support services and operate sensitive facilities by military organisations around the world, with deep expertise in delivering lower-cost, higher quality defence and space services.
Inmarsat – a pioneering technology company and the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications.
CGI UK - a global IT and business consulting services firm delivering mission-critical solutions to space and defence organisations for more than 40 years.
Lockheed Martin UK - a global security and aerospace company, principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.


Bryce Space and Technology is an analytic and engineering firm serving government and commercial clients. Bryce provides unique, integrated expertise on the space economy. Bryce's expertise includes market analytics, technology readiness, cyber security, policy and economics, and strategy. Many authoritative data sets characterizing the space industry and sub-segments were originated by our analysts. We understand the interplay of national security, civil, and commercial space programmes, capabilities, and markets. Find out more at: www.brycetech.com.


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Media Contacts:

Charles Carr Serco +44 (0) 7718 194 381 Charles.Carr@Serco.com

Matthew Knowles Inmarsat +44 (0) 7725 476 507 matthew.knowles@inmarsat.com

Paul Butler CGI UK +44 (0) 7920 784 199 p.butler@cgi.com

John Neilson Lockheed Martin UK +44 (0) 7771. 377 027 john.neilson@lmco.com

For further information: Charles Carr Serco +44 (0) 7718 194 381 Charles.Carr@Serco.com Matthew Knowles Inmarsat +44 (0) 7725 476 507 matthew.knowles@inmarsat.com Paul Butler CGI UK +44 (0) 7920 784 199 p.butler@cgi.com John Neilson Lockheed Martin UK +44 (0) 7771. 377 027 john.neilson@lmco.com