The Space Age: A Global Revolution

The Northern Space Consortium has close links with the British Interplanetary Society, most of the Board are Fellows of the Society, and was delighted to put on the Conference in The Exhibition Centre with the help and support of the British Interplanetary Society.


Alan Cross, FBIS, Northern Space Consortium, chaired the day and opened the Conference. Alistair Scott, BIS, then gave a background on the Society, its major achievements and current projects. The first of the main speakers was Miles Cardin of Spaceport Cornwall who described their plans and progress to date. Mike Taylor from UK Space Agency reminded everyone of the size of the current space industry in the UK where currently 30,000 are directly employed in it and how the Government is working to ensure that the industry continues to grow in line with the projected aim. Ian Downey, Head of UK Ambassador Programme, ESA Business Applications explained how his role was to ensure that the benefits of space technology and data was used throughout industry and business.  The role was expanding and UK Regional Ambassadors were being created. Stuart Eves addressed the issue of Space Debris where there are approx. 720,000 objects greater than 10cm size. It is estimated that when the Space Fence goes live it will be able to track objects as low as 1cm and so the number of known pieces of debris will increase by a factor of 10! Novel ideas for removing debris were presented including using debris as fuel. The final speaker in this session was Robert Hill, Space Adviser KX Systems. KX Systems has over 3,000 employees in 15 offices and provides data analysis products and services, specialising in handling very large data sets.


After the break Wallis Laughrey, Vice President, Raytheon Space System introduced a brief film describing Raytheon overall and the various industries that it worked in and some of the major technological projects that it was responsible for. Wallis then explained the current plans that Raytheon has for working in Space and the main theme was one of co-operation with other companies and organisations. The morning concluded with a panel session made up of the previous speakers and chaired by Joanne Wheeler, MBE of Bird and Bird.


After a lunch break that gave attendees ample time to network and look around the rest of the Festival and the Exhibition and possibly meet HRH the Duke of Cambridge who as the Festival’s patron was visiting, the afternoon consisted of eight brief presentations showcasing a wide variety of products and services.  Doug Liddle, Spacetime Enterprises described how they plan to offer a real time virtual reality experience of Earth using space data. Weather Logistics deliver bespoke localised weather forecasts and Christopher Nankervis who set the company up described how the forecasts were being used to improve crop yields.  After many years working in transport and logistics Ant Chisnell founded DriverNet in St Helens in 2016.  DriverNet have developed very successful fleet management software using satellite data, in 2017 they were the UK winners of the ESA Satellite Navigation contest. 

Robin Hague explained how Skyrora, is building a new launcher inspired by Black Arrow. The company is based in Edinburgh with facilities in Oxford and the Ukraine.  Twinkle will be the first commercial spacecraft to look for exoplanets and Marcell Tessenyi, Blue Sky Space Limited, described this new idea of ‘space science as a service’.  Matjaz Vidmar explained how the international Gateway Earth Development Group is looking how space stations could be used as a focal point for off world economy.  Mitch Hunter-Scullion, Asteroid Mining Corporation explained their plans for extracting platinum from Asteroids and the progress todate. Finally Delyth Lloyd of STFC Daresbury described their facilities for business incubation and development support. Since 2010 no less than 60 companies had been incubated there.


All these speakers then participated in a panel session chaired by Alan Cross, who then concluded the day.

At the end of a very successful and interesting day a lot of the attendees met up at the nearby Tap and Still to continue discussions and networking.