During a launch event at the Farnborough International Airshow, the Space Alliance has unveiled plans to boost the UK’s £16.5Bn space sector with the full backing of defence and security giants Leonardo and Thales, both of which have major UK-based operations.

The Space Alliance is a global partnership between Leonardo and Thales which brings together leading space technology companies Telespazio (a joint venture between Leonardo, 67%, and Thales, 33%) and Thales Alenia Space (a joint venture between Thales, 67%, and Leonardo, 33%), which collectively employ over 11,000 people worldwide. In response to the publication of the UK’s National Space Strategy and Defence Space Strategy, the Space Alliance is moving to invest in and focus on growth in the UK, backed by parent companies Leonardo and Thales.

The Space Alliance in the UK is a strong industry team that can draw also on the technologies and resources of Leonardo UK and Thales UK, both well established as national champions in their respective fields. Together, Leonardo and Thales spend £1.3Bn annually with over 4,000 companies in the UK and invest more than £250M every year in UK-based research and development. The team employs 14,000 people across 25 sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Space technology and expertise at these sites is already being used to protect and defend military assets and critical national infrastructure. Meanwhile, the collection of data from cutting-edge sensors in orbit is increasingly being utilised for vital decision-making. The complementary capabilities of Thales Alenia Space in satellite systems and Telespazio in the services associated with them provides the Space Alliance with all the necessary expertise to respond effectively to market needs.

In addition to bringing its existing onshore capabilities to bear in support of the National Space Strategy and Defence Space Strategy, the Alliance also plans to develop new skills and knowledge in the UK, drawing on its 60 years of involvement in major European space programmes. These have included the delivery of Galileo navigation services, military satellite communications programmes and the production and operation of the Copernicus Earth observation satellites.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said:

“The UK has a thriving space sector, employing 47,000 people and generating an annual income of £16.5 billion. We are committed to growing this further by capitalising on the UK’s strengths, such as
our leading small satellite industry, becoming the first country in Europe to offer launch capabilities and leading the way in space sustainability.

“We continue to work closely with partners from industry, with academia and across government to catalyse further investment, deliver new missions and capabilities, and champion space for the good of humanity. The Space Alliance will benefit from Thales and Leonardo’s strong track records of investing in the UK and renowned expertise, providing a further boost to the UK’s national space ambitions.”

A key part of the Space Alliance’s roadmap is to create a new generation of Space Apprenticeships, as projects such as NASA’s Artemis Moon Mission inspire a nationwide interest in space last seen around the original Moon landing in the 1960s. As part of an international team that includes several British companies, the Space Alliance is already working to create communications and navigation services on the Moon as part of the European Space Agency’s Moonlight project. Moonlight’s aim is to support the commercial and government missions that, in the second half of the decade, will explore the Moon and help develop a lunar economy. By offering such interesting, meaningful work and a route to highly skilled, well-paid jobs, the Space Alliance in UK will help pave the way to British leadership in space engineering.

Chair and CEO of Leonardo UK Norman Bone said, “The UK has a vibrant space industry with Leonardo, Thales and the Space Alliance already playing an active role. In the national space strategy, we see real potential to unlock further growth. This is a great sector for our young scientists and engineers to contribute to something truly meaningful and, by inspiring the next generation and providing great opportunities for fulfilling work, we can build an innovative and attractive space economy in the UK. Leonardo and Thales both offer outstanding early careers opportunities and we’re keen to expand these programmes via our space sector companies.”

CEO of Thales UK Alex Cresswell said, “Research and innovation are at the heart of both the defence and security sector and the space sector. Thales and Leonardo are both major inward investors in the UK and have developed a number of unique onshore capabilities with direct read across to the space sector. Our ongoing research into technologies such as AI and digital twins will be available for exploitation by the Space Alliance In the UK in support of the National Space Strategy, which itself brings together civil and defence policy for the first time, and the Defence Space Strategy.”

CEO of Telespazio UK Mark Hewer said, “Our group can bring to bear so much knowledge and investment into the UK, whether leveraging on our delivery of global satellite communications, operating major international earth observation missions and exploiting the power of big data on security and climate issues, to delivering actionable intelligence and domain awareness to commercial and military customers. As we look to advance the UK’s space capabilities, companies like Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space will be able to combine UK onshore research and engineering with international collaboration to help realise the UK’s vision of becoming a leading space nation.”

CEO of Thales Alenia Space in the UK Andrew Stanniland said, “We depend on space for our prosperity and security, so it’s no wonder that The UK space sector is growing faster than the rest of the UK economy. With the backing of our multinational parent companies, the Space Alliance will be able to act as a catalyst for this growth. Our plan will see us develop valuable intellectual property in the UK and draw on the best of our European heritage to strengthen our onshore expertise. It’s a really exciting time to be part of the sector.”


Founded in 2005, the Space Alliance is a strategic partnership between two major industrial groups, Leonardo and Thales. With more than 10 thousand employees worldwide, the Space Alliance combines the capabilities of two joint ventures, Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) and Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%). Leveraging Telespazio’s and Thales Alenia Space’s combined expertise, the Space Alliance offers a unique range of end-to-end solutions to operators, governments, institutions and space agencies, from satellite manufacturing to services. The Space Alliance addresses numerous space applications, including telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, exploration, robotics, transportation systems and orbital infrastructures. It relies on this unique joint legacy to shape the future of the space sector, a future where innovation goes hand in hand with sustainability.


Leonardo, a global high-technology company, is among the top world players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organised into five business divisions, Leonardo has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and the USA, where it also operates through subsidiaries that include Leonardo DRS (defense electronics), and joint ventures and partnerships: ATR, MBDA, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space and Avio. Leonardo competes in the most important international markets by leveraging its areas of technological and product leadership (Helicopters, Aircraft, Aerostructures, Electronics, Cyber & Security Solutions and Space). Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2021 Leonardo recorded consolidated revenues of €14.1 billion and invested €1.8 billion in Research and Development. The company has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) since 2010 and has been confirmed among the global sustainability leaders in 2021. Leonardo is also included in the MIB ESG index.

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Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies, investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations – connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum computing – to build a confident future crucial for the development of our societies. The Group provides its customers – businesses, organisations and governments – in the defense, aeronautics, space, transport, and digital identity and security domains with solutions, services and products that help them fulfil their critical role, consideration for the individual being the driving force behind all decisions.
Thales has 81,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2021 the Group generated sales of €16.2 billion.

Telespazio, a Leonardo and Thales 67/33 joint venture, is one of the world’s leading operators in satellite services. Its activities range from the design and development of space systems to the management of launch services, from in-orbit satellite control to Earth observation, from integrated communications, satellite navigation and localisation services to scientific programmes. Telespazio plays a leading role in the reference markets harnessing technological experience acquired over the years. Since its establishment, the company has participated in major European space programmes such as Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus and COSMO-SkyMed. In 2021, Telespazio generated sales of EUR 605 million while employing more than 3,000 people in fifteen different countries.


Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost[1]effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2021 and has around 8,900 employees in 10 countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the US.