A giant leap in British spaceflight history is being made today (5 March 2021) as the government publishes its commercial spaceflight consultation response, paving the way for space launches from UK soil.
Over the past few months, the government 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.
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 and exciting 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.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
The regulations to implement the Space Industry Act 2018 will drive research and innovation, feeding into our emerging national space strategy as we level up the UK and promote growth in this thriving sector.
They strike a balance between creating the conditions that will allow the space sector to flourish in the UK while ensuring that it’s also safe.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
Already a global leader in commercial small satellite research and development, government and industry have set a target to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10% by 2030.
The government has already awarded grants totalling nearly £40 million to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launches from UKspaceports.
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 bring many benefits to the environment, allowing us to observe weather patterns, monitor climate change and harmful activities such as illegal deforestation, and manage natural resources.