UK space tech predictions for 2024

The UK space tech sector began the year with great optimism, hoping to achieve the first orbital launch from British soil through Virgin Orbit. However, this hope came crashing down when the attempt failed. Despite this setback, there is still hope that the UK’s rapidly growing space tech sector will soar to new heights in 2024. In fact, the UK ranks third globally for space tech funding, indicating the sector’s immense potential.

In 2024, the UK could see a significant breakthrough with the launch of rockets from spaceports in Scotland and Cornwall. While the UK currently doesn’t have the capability to launch rockets, these spaceports could change that. Skyrora, a Scottish rocket company, is among the British firms planning to launch in 2024. Additionally, NASA’s Artemis mission will see astronauts orbit the Moon for the first time in nearly 50 years, reigniting global interest in space exploration.

Looking ahead to 2024, we spoke to four space tech experts to gather their predictions.

Launch from British soil is ‘inevitable’

“The space tech industry, especially in the UK, will experience a landmark year in 2024. It is not only inevitable that we will witness a launch from British soil, but we will also have a general election. The outcome of the election will determine the level of emphasis placed on the space sector. Will there be increased funding? Changes in research and development? A stronger pipeline of skilled tech and engineering talent?

“The space industry is a significant contributor to the British economy, generating billions of pounds and employing hundreds of thousands of people. Therefore, getting it right is crucial for the UK’s future as a science and technology superpower. The UK has a strong history in space tech, particularly in manufacturing small satellites. Now, with advancements in regulations and launch capabilities, we will witness multiple launches from Scottish spaceports next year.”

– Volodymyr Levykin, CEO and founder of Skyrora

Decreasing cost to get to orbit will fuel space tech boom

“Microgravity manufacturing is at a critical turning point. The cost of returning mass to Earth is currently exorbitant and often prohibitive. However, just as SpaceX’s reduction in launch costs revolutionized the satellite industry, a decrease in the cost of return will lead to a boom in in-orbit manufacturing. This will enable critical life science research, novel drug production, and superior semiconductor chip manufacturing.

“Several return vehicle technologies will come online next year, including The Exploration Company, Atmos Space Cargo, and Space Forge. These companies are testing different technologies to safely return payloads to Earth, establishing the necessary infrastructure for this industry.

“As the cost of return decreases, the economics will shift, making it more viable to produce in space. We can expect to see the emergence of numerous microgravity application companies. Exciting times lie ahead in 2024!”

– Katie King, CEO and founder of BioOrbit

A shift to sustainable rocket fuels

“The technological landscape in 2024 is poised for thrilling innovations. One significant development is the space industry’s decision to move away from traditional hazardous rocket fuels. This shift, driven by regulatory and sustainability initiatives, not only promotes a sustainable space landscape but also paves the way for fuel innovations that allow the extraction of resources from moons, asteroids, and Martian landscapes.

“The transition to sustainable rocket fuels heralds a new era of space exploration and technology. Beyond the environmental benefits, it opens up remarkable possibilities for the industry. By extracting and converting resources from celestial bodies into fuel, we envision a future where space missions can be more self-sufficient. This could significantly reduce the cost and complexity of space travel, making it more accessible and frequent.”

– Ashley Modeste Johnson, CEO and founder of Applied Atomics

Generative AI will transform space tech

“The space industry, like many others, faces challenges with siloed or internal information. However, GPTBuilder, a code-free tool, is revolutionizing the process. In just five minutes, I was able to develop a satellite design requirements tool by training a GPT on NASA design guides.

“GPTBuilder not only generated design requirements based on my needs but also guided me through design trade-offs and explained the consequences of my decisions. It even assessed whether my old startup’s propulsion system would work in the satellite design, and it provided the correct answer!

“The power of GPTBuilder is incomprehensible until you experience it firsthand. Its potential to speed up design processes is immense, especially when trained on better or proprietary data. I encourage you to explore its capabilities and witness its transformative impact.”

– Dr. Maureen Haverty, principal at Seraphim

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