UK reveals its £16 billion space flight future

The UK has taken another huge step in its efforts to become a leading space nation with the announcement of the regulations that will pave the way to spaceflights and satellite launches.

The Department of Transport has also revealed details of planned spaceport sites across United Kingdom “to create a significant number of highly skilled jobs, with the potential for launches to take place from 2022”.

The DoT said the legislation provides the framework to regulate the UK space industry and enable launches to take place from British soil for the very first time. It will unlock a potential £4 billion of market opportunities over the next decade, creating thousands of jobs and benefiting communities right across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We stand on the cusp of the new commercial space age, and this is the ‘blast off’ moment for the UK’s thriving space industry, demonstrating Government’s commitment to put Britain at the global forefront of this sector.

“These regulations will help create new jobs and bring economic benefits to communities and organisations right across the UK, helping us to level up as we inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.”

He added it also puts the UK in a unique position as the first country in Europe able to launch spacecraft and satellites from home soil. This could lead to better monitoring of climate change, as well as improved data for satellite navigation systems, improving journeys right here on the ground too.

The announcement came at the same time as the formal appointment of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the industry regulator.

“In time, we will also start to see new and emerging space activity – including sub-orbital space tourism and eventually new transport systems such as hypersonic flight,” said a DoT spokesperson. “Not only will this support our thriving space sector, it will also attract companies from around the globe to come to, and benefit from, these commercial opportunities.”

“The first satellite launches from UK spaceports in 2022 will be a remarkable moment – and these new regulations have taken us a step closer to being the first country in Europe to achieve lift-off from home soil,” added Science Minister Amanda Solloway. “By creating world-class legislation to support our growing space sector in a safe and sustainable way, we are delivering new jobs and economic growth to communities right across the UK.”

President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Howard Nye, said: “The Royal Aeronautical Society welcomes this landmark day for the UK’s space sector with the timely passage into law of the Space Industry Regulations.  This provides the legal and regulatory framework to enable commercial spaceflight launches from UK soil, thereby broadening the scope of our commercial space sector. The Society also strongly supports the nomination of the CAA with its world-class reputation as the new UK spaceflight regulator and welcomes its readiness to process licence applications for satellite launch with immediate effect.”

ADS Chief Executive Kevin Craven said the new would open the UK to billions of pounds of new investment.

“The applications of space technology are rapidly evolving and the UK’s dynamic space sector is set to continue growing its £16 billion contribution to our economy,” he said. “Putting in place this regulatory framework is another important step towards making commercial space launch from UK spaceports a reality, which will offer major opportunities throughout our space industry and its supply chain. Developing our space capabilities offers far-reaching benefits, creating rewarding high value jobs in the UK, delivering consumer applications including in navigation, and in addressing the challenge of climate change.”

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