Dr Graham Turnock

Credit:  Aaron Chown/ PA

Graham Turnock, the chief executive of the UK Space Agency, has resigned just weeks after the Government completed a $500m (£365m) bet on the satellite operator OneWeb. 

Mr Turnock’s resignation, after almost four years in charge as the Government’s most senior space official, was confirmed by a Space Agency spokesman on Wednesday

Mr Turnock told staff in an internal email that many of his goals, such as resolving its future with the European Space Agency, and laying the foundations to launch rockets from British soil, have been achieved.

However, the agency has also been divided and occasionally clashed with ministers over the merits of investing in OneWeb. The Government agreed to pay $500m (£365m) for a 45pc in the bankrupt satellite operator earlier this year, but UKSA officials had opposed the move, questioning whether it represented value for money.

The agency had also spent years investigating the alternative possibility of building a new satellite navigation system from scratch, which had been pegged as costing as much as £5bn, after Britain’s exit from the EU meant it would not have top-level access to the European Galileo programme.

UKSA chiefs have a four-year term, and Mr Turnock’s was due to expire in April, but could have been renewed.

The $500m investment in OneWeb, a joint takeover with Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel, was completed in November.

UKSA said Mr Turnock would leave later this year and recruitment would begin for a replacement soon.

Mr Turnock said: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as UKSA chief executive during one of the most exciting and challenging periods of the UK’s short space history.”