British spaceflight takes one step closer


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Spaceflight from the UK? Helen Sharman became the UK’s first astronaut when she went to the Mir space station on a joint British-Soviet Union mission

The Government has published its commercial spaceflight consultation, paving the way for future space launches from UK soil. 

Over the past few months, it has been inviting industry, stakeholders and the public to have their say on the rules that will govern our spaceflight programme – and the consultation has captured the imagination of people across the UK, including schoolchildren, it claims. 

The resulting legislation will help to propel the development of commercial spaceflight technologies, from traditional rockets launched vertically into space, to high altitude balloons and spaceplanes, with launches potentially taking place within the next few years. 

Spaceports could also be built in South West England, Scotland and Wales, inspiring a new generation of scientists and engineers, creating high-skilled jobs and cementing the government’s aim for the UK to be the location of the first launches of this type in Europe.

Says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: 

“The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to the UK’s ambitions in this sector and today we’re making a giant leap for growth and prosperity for the whole of Great Britain. 

“I’m committed to growing the UK’s space industry, and with the most modern piece of space legislation in the world, we are cementing our leading role in this sector, unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight for all four corners of our nation.” 

The regulations to implement the Space Industry Act will drive research and innovation, feeding into the emerging National Space Strategy, claims the Government. 

Adds Science Minister Amanda Solloway:

“The UK’s space sector is thriving and we have bold ambitions to be the first country in Europe to launch small satellites, while building space capabilities in every corner of the UK.

 “Working with our space industry, regulators and across government, we will develop a modern, safe and flexible regulatory framework that will support a new era of sustainable commercial spaceflight across the UK.”

The UK Government and industry has set a target to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10 per cent by 2030.  It has already awarded grants totalling nearly £40 million to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launches from UK spaceports.  

Last month, the Department for Transport also published guidance on the environmental objectives around spaceflight. Access to space and the use of space-based tech will allow observation of weather patterns, monitor climate change and harmful activities, such as illegal deforestation, and to manage natural resources. 

Chris Price


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