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Wales reveals plans to become a sustainable space nation

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The Welsh government has unveiled plans to dramatically expand its space exploration sector and become the first sustainable space nation in the process.

The Wales: A Sustainable Space Nation strategy sets out various areas where the country hopes to lead growth, including in the development of greener fuels and reusable technologies.

The UK space sector as a whole has tripled in size to £14.8bn a year since 2010 and has set itself the target of reaching 10% global market share by 2030.

Wales hopes to secure 5% of the UK market by 2040, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has said, boosting its economy by £2billion a year.

Among the plans are the development of Spaceport Snowdonia on the former Llanbedr airfield, as well as an offshore launch pad operating from Port Talbot.

There are also plans to develop cleaner fuels and propulsion technologies, including at the Llanbedr site and at military testing facilities at Ceredigion, Powys and Pendine in Carmarthenshire.

Elsewhere, satellite technologies used to find water on other planets are being used to monitor coal dumps in Wales.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said many growing space tech companies already have a presence in Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Gething said sustainability was at the heart of the strategy.

The minister said: “It’s about propulsion, new fuels that you might use, as well as having the things that you might want to put into space already on the ground and in a more environmentally friendly way. the environment.”

He continued: “Space Forge, which is a major Welsh start-up, is growing at a real pace and is looking at reusable technology.

“They envision both being able to send material into space and sending it back and reusing it, but also being able to manufacture items in space as well.

“So you’re looking at both reusing and decarbonizing the way we put things in space and that in itself will be important for air travel.”

He said many big space tech companies already have a base in Wales, including Qioptiq, which makes 98% of the glass products used in space exploration.

“Snowdonia Spaceport is already testing the potential of the next generation of space travel and space technology,” Gething said.

“Space Forge and B2Space, located near Newport, are studying how you can partially float objects and then have propulsion that is already above ground.

“It would actually potentially save a significant amount of fuel that you need to take off.”

The minister added: “Essentially the university partnerships that power a lot of this space exploration, our university sector here has a very good track record in that regard.”

A major driver behind the strategy is the need to create well-paid, highly-skilled graduate jobs in Wales to try to stem the exodus of young people to other parts of the UK in search of work .

Mr Gething said: “If we want to see a prosperous economic future, we need more young people to realize that you don’t have to go out to get ahead and provide real opportunities to do so.

“I am happy for people to move, travel and work in the rest of the UK and the rest of the world, but I want these people to feel like they can really secure and build a business here in the country. of Wales or join a business. or a business that can give them a real economic future.

British astronaut Tim Peake said: “Space has the ability to inspire and educate future generations, while being at the heart of solving some of today’s toughest challenges.

“Technology and innovation are essential to growing our economy with a skilled workforce and I am delighted to see Wales seizing the exciting opportunities the space sector has to offer.”