Space can support the Blue Economy and learn lessons from it too


Space satellites have a major role to play in the Blue Economy, but what has not always been recognised is the lessons the space sector can learn from how we manage the oceans.

Data from space is vital to the maritime industry, tracking ships’ locations and sea-going traffic for the sake of safety and economic efficiency. It also has an important role to play in monitoring the marine environment and its sustainability.

After a career in the Royal Air Force, where I was an Aerospace Battle Manager, I set up Northern Space and Security (NORSS) two years ago to provide expertise on space object tracking and space situational awareness. The aim is to help commercial, government and academic customers make effective operational use of space and provide training for the satellite operators and controllers of the future.

What struck me is that although mankind has been operating in space for 60 years, the space environment is still little understood. We should not just be monitoring the Blue Economy, but learning from it too.

As one of the speakers at the Discover the Possibilities, Into the Blue, conference in Sunderland on March 28, I am very excited about how the space sector can help us develop the oceans without destroying the marine environment. That is why NORSS is a founding member of the Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS) along with innovative companies and the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence. SAINTS has launched the Smart Port North East Testbed to develop satellite-based solutions and digital programmes.

Just as we need to develop oceans without destroying the marine environment, we must increase the utility of space and make sure that it too is safe and sustainable. It is not just a case of developing technology, it is also about developing proportionate legislation and the ability to oversee that regulation, because the consequences of not regulating safety and sustainability in space could be catastrophic.

One of the roles of NORSS is to work with public sector organisations and private companies to support the UK in becoming a responsible launch nation because by intelligently managing space we will be better able to exploit it to improve lives on earth, on land and at sea.