TAMPA, Fla. — European space mission integrator Telespazio has bought British engineering and consultancy firm e2E to play a bigger role in plans to expand the U.K. satellite industry.
Telespazio, a joint venture between aerospace giants Thales Group of France and Italy’s Leonardo, said Nov. 14 the acquisition by its British subsidiary will also greatly improve its satellite communications expertise.
The deal comes amid a 10-year national strategy for boosting the U.K.’s space economy, which has seen the British government announce more than $12.5 billion of funding for space activities since its release in 2021.
Buying e2E will help position Telespazio to support this national space strategy across civil and defense programs, according to the companies.
Telespazio UK’s space expertise spanned a broad section of the industry before the acquisition, mainly in Earth observation and navigation and timing markets.
However, the company lacked domestic expertise in satellite communications — an important growth area for the U.K. and other countries seeking a bigger slice of the space industry.
Founded in 1999, e2E provides systems engineering support for customers seeking to define, develop, or operate space-based communications networks, and also offers services for integrating and testing new satellite systems.
The company is part of a consortium developing the U.K.’s multi-billion-dollar Skynet 6 military satellite communications program.
On the commercial side, e2E has provided verification and testing services for U.K.-based Inmarsat, now part of Viasat of the United States. The firm has also provided operations engineering support for OneWeb, the U.K.-based low Earth orbit operator now part of France’s Eutelsat.
The U.K. remains committed to expanding its domestic space industry despite this recent wave of foreign takeovers.
The government has said space will be important for bolstering its industrial base after leaving the European Union in 2020, enabling the country to expand beyond a services-based economy.
According to the government’s latest estimate, the U.K. currently accounts for about 4.1% of a global space economy worth around $46 billion.
Luigi Pasquali, CEO of the Rome-headquartered Telespazio parent company, said the U.K. is a key part of a growth plan set out in 2021 to double revenues to 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion) in five years.
Telespazio made about 650 million euros in revenue in 2022. Telespazio UK CEO Mark Hewer said the British division is set to contribute more than £25 million ($31 million) to the parent group’s 2023 sales.
“The business plan is to at least double this over the coming years,” Hewer added.
Telespazio employs more than 3,000 people in 15 different countries, and before the acquisition Telespazio UK employed 116 people.
Hewer said e2E employs around 85 people. He declined to provide financial details about the acquisition.
Thales and Leonardo also have separate presences across the United Kingdom, where they employ 14,000 people between them and invest more than £250 million in U.K.-based research and development every year.