LONDON, March 24 (UPI) -- European officials say a new United Kingdom Space Agency will take over responsibility for all U.K. space-related policies and budgets.
The European Space Agency said the new organization, which begins operations April 1 in Harwell, England, will represent the United Kingdom on space matters in all negotiations with international partners.
British space policy and budgets have been handled by a partnership of government departments and science funding councils under the British National Space Center.
British officials said they have also agreed in principle that the new agency will manage the U.K.'s financial interest in the European Union's Satellite Center, which is currently the responsibility of England's Ministry of Defense.
"We at ESA see this as a clear sign that the United Kingdom wants to reinforce its space sector and its commitment to ESA," ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said. "This is good for the whole U.K. economy, good for ESA and good for Europe. We are looking forward to working closely with the new executive space agency that is privileged to be building on the successful work the (British National Space Center) has done over the past decades."