Former NASA scientist to head Space Scotland
A former NASA and European Space Agency research scientist is to lead Space Scotland as its first executive director.
Dr Hina Khan will head up the new body as it strives to develop Scotland’s burgeoning expertise in the space and satellites sector.
With 25 years’ experience as a scientist and educator, Dr Khan, from Glasgow, plans to help accelerate the sector’s growth and collaboration.
After leading space-based data and analytics firm, Spire, Hina has been in the space sector for all of her working life and is looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective to the industry.
She said: “Landing a leading role at Space Scotland really was my dream and when I heard about the opportunity, I knew this was something that I had to be part of.
“Throughout my career, I have helped numerous companies drive forward their ambitions in space technology, so much so that when I was offered the Executive Director position, I couldn’t have imagined a better fit.
“I like to look at my role as ensuring that space capabilities are utilised by people who need it as part of their infrastructure and for business connections. Understanding space technology can help us conceptualise the bigger picture and how space benefits our everyday life, from agriculture, to the energy that heats our homes to the simple act of making a phone call.
“The space sector in Scotland is a very close-knit community which creates togetherness for businesses across the board. This means that we can connect with the people who make the decisions very quickly to create real and tangible outcomes, which is a great benefit.”
Space Scotland provides a single voice to represent the collective Scottish industrial space community with the aim of enabling, promoting and growing the sector within the wider UK space proposition. The industry-led body is made up of 60 space companies, as well as academia and government officials, including Trade Minister, Ivan McKee.
Space Scotland’s vision is for Scotland to become the best place on Earth to build a space business. It aims to help the sector achieve a goal of contributing more than £4billion annually to the Scottish economy by 2030.
As well as the executive director role, the cluster manager position at Space Scotland has also been filled by space, health and energy expert, Dr Natasha Nicholson, with further roles set to be filled over the coming months.
Hina added: “The first few months in my role will be spent ensuring that we build a strong team so that we have the right people in place to drive our space strategy forward and implement it in a practical way, making sure that our goals align with what the government want to achieve.
“I am really looking forward to the many exciting years ahead in this flourishing and diverse sector and I hope that the establishment of Space Scotland will continue to have a greatly positive impact – one that I am thrilled to be leading on.”
Funding for Hina’s appointment, as well as the other roles in the organisation, has come from Scottish Enterprise, following an initial UK Space Agency grant to formalise the Scottish space cluster through Space Scotland.
Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “As home to around a fifth of all space jobs in the UK, Scotland is a vital part of our growing space sector.
“We have provided funding for Space Scotland because we recognise the important work they are doing to champion space, catalyse investment and create jobs. I’d like to congratulate Hina and Space Scotland on this appointment. Hina has a wealth of experience and I am sure she, and her team, will drive Scotland’s space sector to new heights.”
Daniel Smith, director of Space Scotland, said: “Hina’s impressive space sector background covers both business and academia, working locally within Scotland but also internationally. This experience, combined with connections across governments and international space agencies, really helped her stand out to us among the list of high-calibre candidates.
“It’s a testament to the years of voluntary effort put in by all Space Scotland representatives that the organisation has reached a level of maturity where it can secure the funding necessary to attract individuals like Hina and Natasha to support the sector’s needs. I’m looking forward to the results of their collaboration with our current chairperson, Craig Clark MBE, and our many members, in addressing sectoral challenges and opportunities.
“I’d like to highlight the support from Scottish government and its agencies, as well as the UK Space Agency, in helping us build this foundation ahead of what I’m sure will be another positive year for commercial space, across the UK and globally.”
Originally named the Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC), Space Scotland was founded in late-2016 by a group of like-minded Scottish space industry professionals who recognised the huge potential for the sector to develop in Scotland.
The Council has welcomed partners from the wider UK sector and organised industry events and consultations that are focused on supporting and enhancing the space proposition for the whole of the United Kingdom. They seek to provide a platform for industry, academia and government officials to work collaboratively, promote the sector and take a united approach to shared challenges via working groups such as the Environmental Task Force, UK Spaceports Alliance and New Voices in Space.
To find out more about Space Scotland, visit https://scottishspace.org/