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Commercial Spaceflight Deputy Director


Swindon, London or Harwell (near Didcot)


About the job


The Commercial Spaceflight Deputy Director provides senior vision and leadership to ensure the cross-government Spaceflight Programme achieves the UK Space Agency’s ambition to grow our space sector. They are accountable for delivery of innovative industry-led projects and agreements with other nations, supported by a team of 21 officials and a minimum £50m budget.

This is a high-profile and demanding role, requiring a leader who can provide the intellectual rigour, decisive leadership and stakeholder influence needed to ensure delivery of complex domestic and international projects within a context of high political and sector engagement.

As a part of the UK Space Agency Executive Board, the Commercial Spaceflight Deputy Director will also help to set a vision for the Agency’s future, monitor and account for its performance and risk management, and improve staff engagement. They will attend regular steering board and audit committee meetings and deputise for the CEO as needed.

Job description

The Spaceflight Programme is a high-profile Ministerial priority, which is central to achieving Government’s growth targets for the UK space sector.

Government has set a vision of the UK at the global forefront of new commercial markets for small satellite launch and other space transportation services - providing world leading capability, bringing new investment and innovation to the UK, and inspiring the next generation of space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Jointly delivered by the UK Space Agency, Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority, the Spaceflight Programme aims to achieve this through four major projects:

1. Legislation project: Establishing a legal framework to enable spaceflight in the UK.

2. Regulation project: Establishing a framework to regulate safe and secure spaceflight activities in the UK.

3. Market project: Encouraging industry to develop products, services and capabilities to support a new UK spaceflight value chain.

4. International project: Securing the international approvals and support needed for UK spaceflight activities.

Each project is led by a Senior Civil Servant who is accountable to the Programme SRO for achieving their project’s goals and contributing to the overall programme’s success

Project and programme management, governance and assurance is co-ordinated centrally by a dedicated Spaceflight Programme Management Office. These are also underpinned by an ambitious communications and engagement strategy.


As a member of the Spaceflight Programme senior leadership team, the Commercial Spaceflight Deputy Director will provide cross-cutting direction and support in order to:

• Engage a large cross-government team of programme delivery, policy, legal, analytical and communications staff behind a united vision of success;

• Create a dynamic, collaborative and outcomes-focused culture that embodies the Agency’s values: United, Knowledgeable, Sharing and Ambitious;

• Ensure coherency between project plans and effective management of complex dependencies;

• Drive progress, surface ambiguities and manage risks to maintain momentum and delivery;

• Monitor programme impact and overall value for money.

Specifically, the Commercial Spaceflight Deputy Director will provide senior direction and accountability for two projects within the Spaceflight Programme and a £50m budget:

1. Market Project: They will direct policy and financial interventions that help industry to build spaceflight infrastructure and technologies, and raise demand for new UK spaceflight services. This includes oversight of at least four major R&D grants worth £31.5m – with further funding under consideration.

2. International Project: They will oversee work to secure international support and, where needed, formal agreements with nations that export launch technologies to the UK or neighbour UK operational activity, including the US and Europe. They will represent the UK Space Agency bilaterally and at global fora, including as lead delegate to the European Space Agency Launchers Programme Board.

They will in addition lead two further cross-programme activities:

1. Communications, outreach and engagement: They will oversee work to raise the profile of government’s spaceflight programme, forge strong relationships with stakeholders to build advocacy and influence, and deliver education projects that use spaceflight to inspire children and young people.

2. Programme Management Office: They will provide line management to the Senior Spaceflight Programme Manager, ensuring they have the skills and support needed to lead an efficient and proactive programme management function.

This is an exciting, ambitious and challenging portfolio. The Commercial Space Deputy Director will achieve success through:

• Inspiring a team of 21 policy, programme delivery and communications officials.

• Working across the UK Space Agency and wider government to forge alliances and align strategy to support the emerging spaceflight market.

• Building strong and trusted partnerships with domestic and global industry, local and devolved government, and other states to secure global support and drive activity to build local spaceflight capabilities.

• Ensuring robust programme and financial management, governance and assurance systems and structures are in place and operating effectively.

• Accounting to the SCS 2 Programme SRO for delivery including at regular Programme Board meetings.

• Establishing a detailed evidence base to maintain an overview of a dynamic global spaceflight sector and emerging UK industrial base, and to evaluate the programme’s impact.

Person Specification

What we are looking for:

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate the following essential criteria;

• Proven ability to inspire Ministers, staff and delivery partners to engage with the organisation’s long-term vision.

• Proven ability to influence, negotiate and debate with Ministers and senior stakeholders at the highest levels of government and industry, including through diplomacy with other national governments.

• Experience of working in a fast paced, politically and commercially complex delivery environment.

• Experience of collaborating across functional, organisational, and national boundaries by building strong and productive relationships.

• Strong analytical skills and confidence working with market intelligence, including the ability to clearly communicate complex information.

• Proven intellectual and decision-making skills, including an ability to respond quickly and flexibly under pressure and to remain resilient at times of ambiguity and change.

• Willingness to travel overseas as necessary, and deal with occasional events or issues outside of normal working hours.

Expected Qualifications

• Managing Successful Programmes Advanced Practitioner

• P3O Practitioner

• APM Registered Project Professional

• Major Projects Leadership Academy

• Project Leadership Programme

Please take time to read the attached Candidate pack for further information about this role and the recruitment process.